Background: Vitamin B 12 deficiency is an uncommon disorder in infancy. Most cases are because of maternal deficiency resulting from insufficient storage and/or reduced intake and are generally seen in exclusively breast-fed infants. Accentuation of the hemolytic process has never been described in association with Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) infections.
Observation: We describe a 9-months-old breast-fed infant with megaloblastic anemia secondary to maternal vitamin B 12 deficiency. He presented severe pancytopenia and regression of motor functions and developed hemolytic crisis during a VZV infection.
Conclusions: Nutritional cobalamin deficiency should be considered in anemic infants with a history of prolonged exclusive breastfeeding and delayed developmental milestones. VZV infection can trigger a hemolytic process in infants with severe megaloblastic anemia secondary to B12 deficiency. A normal mean corpuscular volume does not rule out megaloblastic anemia, when the condition is combined with severe hemolysis.
*U.O.C. of Pediatrics, A.O. Carlo Poma, Pieve di Coriano
†Family Pediatrician, Mantova
‡Department of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology, Spedali Civili, Brescia, Italy
Reprints: Francesca Lombardi, MD, U.O.C. of Pediatrics, Pieve di Coriano, Via Bugatte no 1, C.A.P. 46020, Mantova, Italy (valid for all purposes) (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received for publication May 6, 2009; accepted November 30, 2009