A Canadian mum is sharing her very scary story after nearly losing her daughter to milk anaemia, a dangerous condition most parents are not even aware of.

Ontario mum Anastacia first thought her daughter, Mia, nearly two, was suffering from a common cold or ear infection. Mia had been pulling at her ears so she took her to the doctor. The doctor prescribed her antibiotics for an infection. However, after a week, Mia didn’t seem to be getting any better.

She was eating nappy wipes and chalk

Anastacia and Mia returned to the doctor and received another prescription. A week later, she still wasn’t herself. She was lethargic and not eating regular foods.

Instead, she was eating nonedible items such as baby wipes and chalk, which is a sign of pica, an eating disorder in which people eat items that are not food.

She was very miserable, and [showing] loss of colour,” the mum told Cafemom.

She added that she caught her daughter “sucking on baby wipes” several times, which concerned her.

Milk anemia Mia
Little Mia was sick for weeks before discovering why. Source: Cafemom

Anastacia’s instinct went into overdrive and she took Mia to hospital. By the time they arrived Mia had gone limp and was immediately rushed to the emergency department.

After several attempts to draw blood, they finally were able to get a sample through an IV into her femoral artery.

Mia’s blood work soon revealed that she had lost three-fourths of the blood in her entire body but had no external bleeding. This is incredibly strange and even more concerning. 

At this point we are on edge on why she’s not [bleeding externally].”

After a harrowing wait beside her limp daughter, Anastacia finally got some answers. Her daughter had milk anaemia, a condition that strips the blood of its iron.

How did this happen?

The culprit in Mia’s case was too much cow’s milk. Mia was a big milk drinker and would easily consume four to six bottles of milk a day which is around 30-40 ounces (or around one 800ml to 1.1litre).

Experts recommend no more than two to three bottles a day or 16 to 24 ounces (500ml to 700ml) of cow’s milk. Any more than this may cause an iron deficiency.

“You have heard of not giving a baby too much water, well don’t give them too much milk either,” Anastacia later wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post.

“Cow’s milk in excess will actually strip your body of iron — iron is what makes blood. No iron, no blood.”

While cow’s milk is considered a staple for children, too much can indeed be incredibly dangerous. In Mia’s case, the milk consumption caused her hemoglobin levels to dip dangerously low.

Mia underwent an immediate blood transfusion to get her blood cell count back to normal and is now on the road to recovery.

Anastasia shares her daughter’s story as a warning for other parents about the dangers of too much milk,

If this is nothing more then extra knowledge in your mum tool box, amazing. If it saves you all from the fear, the scare, [and] the terror of watching your child the way our child was, spread the news that Milk Anaemia is a thing.

Always trust your mom gut. Cause a few more hours, one more day, and this would be a very very different post.”

A milk anaemia diagnosis

In Australia, healthy babies typically get enough iron in their diet through breast milk/formula and other foods. However, milk anaemia can still happen.

Cow’s milk actually makes it harder for the body to absorb iron. According to MOTT Children’s Hospital, 

Toddlers can develop iron deficiency anemia if they drink too much cow’s milk (more than 24 ounces a day) and do not eat enough foods that are rich in iron such as green leafy vegetables and red meat.”

What to watch for

Some common symptoms associated with iron deficiency anaemia include:

  • Weakness and feeling tired
  • Pale skin, especially around the hands, nails, and eyelids
  • Fast heartbeat or a heart murmur
  • Fast breathing
  • Irritability
  • Poor appetite
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

In rare cases when iron deficiency is very bad, a child may develop pica, which is a craving to eat items that are not food, such as dirt, paint chips, chalk, and ice.

See a doctor immediately if your child develops any of the above symptoms.

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Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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