Anemia in Newborns
Babies who have anemia have a red blood count that is lower than normal. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the whole body.
What causes anemia in newborns
There are 3 main causes of anemia in newborns. They include the following :
- The baby doesn’t produce enough red blood cells : Most babies have some anemia in the first few months of life. This is known as physiologic anemia. This occurs because the baby is growing fast and it takes time for red blood cells production to catch up.
- The body breaks down red blood cells quickly : This problem is common when the mother and baby’s red blood cells do not match. This is known as Rh/ABO incompatibility. These babies usually have jaundice which causes the skin to become yellow. In a few babies, anemia can also be caused by infections or genetic disorders.
- The baby loss too much blood : Blood loss in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit NICU usually occurs because frequent blood tests need to be done. These tests are needed to help the medical team manage your baby’s condition. The blood that is taken is not replaced immediately which causes anemia.
Other causes of anemia include the following :
- Internal bleeding
- Transfer of blood between the baby and the mother while the baby is still in the womb.
Symptoms of anemia in a newborn
Most babies with anemia don’t have symptoms. However if symptoms do occur, they include the following :
- Pale skin
- Poor feeding
- Feeling sluggish
- Fast heart rate and rapid breathing when resting
What are the treatments for newborn anemia ?
Your baby’s doctor will determine the best treatment option. Many babies with anemia do not need any treatment. However very premature babies who are sick may need a blood transfusion to increase the number of red blood cells.
Other babies may be given medication to help them make more red blood cells. All babies with anemia will have their feedings checked because the right diet can help you make more red blood cells.
Newborn anemia. Summit Health Group. https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/pediatric_health/hhg_newborn_anemia/. Accessed January 24th, 2019
Anemia in the newborn. Merck Manual. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/blood-problems-in-newborns/anemia-in-the-newborn. Accessed January 24th, 2019