Yes they can, but the good news is that, depending on the underlying cause, treatment is often more successful in younger people than in patients over 40.
Mild cases of aplastic anemia are treated with supportive care like blood transfusions and by avoiding sources of infection. High-dose cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug or bone marrow transplants can be utilized in more severe cases. Bone marrow transplants are also used with great success in children.
Children may also inherit a disorder that predisposes them to developing aplastic anemia. Some disorders that are known to predispose a child to aplastic anemia include the following:
- Fanconi anemia
- dyskeratosis congenita
- Shwachman-Diamond syndrome
- reticular dysgenesis
- amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia
- familial aplastic anemias
Activities which put children - and adults - with aplastic anemia at risk for infection or bleeding should be avoided. These activities include the following:
- dental work (until your child's white blood cell counts rise)
- contact sports (i.e., football, hockey, skiing, or rollerblading)
- traveling to high altitudes (children with a low red blood cell count will have increased fatigue and need for oxygen in high altitudes)