What is Transient Erythroblastopenia of Childhood (TEC)?
TEC is a form of anemia (low red cell count) that occurs in previously healthy young children, typically 6 months – 3 years of age. The anemia results from temporary absence of red blood cell production by the bone marrow, and usually resolves without treatment (except for a blood transfusion in some cases). TEC is not a serious or life-long problem.
How is TEC diagnosed?
Most children with TEC appear healthy, and the anemia is found on a CBC (blood count) performed for another purpose e.g. a fever, or because the child is pale, fatigued and sleeping more than usual. The CBC shows moderately severe anemia (hemoglobin 4-8 gm/dl, normal 11g/dL), and the reticulocyte count which indicates how well new red cells are being made is very low (less than 1%). The rest of the blood count, including white blood cell count and platelets are usually normal.
What causes TEC?
Children with TEC have anemia as result of decreased production of red blood cells by the bone marrow. The cause for this is not known, but there may be a history of virus infection of some sort several months earlier, although it is unclear how this might cause TEC.