Anemia In Newborns

Anaemia is a condition in which the body has a lower blood cell count than normal. It is commonly seen in premature infants. Red blood cells carry out the essential function of supplying oxygen to the various parts of the body. A reduction in red blood cells may have adverse effects on the newborn's growth and health. Severe cases need immediate attention, whereas mild cases may not need treatment. In most cases, recovery is swift, and there are seldom any complications.   

Symptoms of Anemia in Infants

Your infant may not exhibit any symptoms of anaemia if the condition is mild. The below symptoms indicate moderate to severe anaemia:

  • Difficulty in waking the infants
  • Poor feeding and tiredness
  • Paleness of skin
  • Fast heart rate and shortness of breath while resting.

Causes of Anemia in Infants

Various factors that may cause anaemia in infants are discussed below:

Anaemia of prematurity: Babies born prematurely often have mild anaemia as they have fewer red blood cells (RBCs). These RBCs also may have shorter life spans than those of full-term babies. This type of anaemia is called anaemia of prematurity.

Rapid breakdown of RBCs: Destruction of RBCs is called hemolysis and may occur due to genetic disorders or incompatibility of maternal and infant blood types. Rh/ABO incompatibility causes the infant's body to break down RBCs too quickly. These babies may develop jaundice or hyperbilirubinemia, giving their skin a yellow tinge.

Blood loss: Infants may suffer from blood loss from birth injuries caused by forceps or other instruments used in delivery. Lack of vitamin K may also result in blood loss.

Inadequate production of RBCs: The bone marrow of preterm babies is immature and may not be capable of producing enough RBCs to match their rapid growth. In rare cases, babies may be born with genetic defects characterized by the inability to produce RBCs.

Lack of vitamins: A lack of essential vitamins like iron, folate, and vitamin E can result in anaemia in infants.

Medical conditions: Newborns affected by severe infections like HIV and syphilis cannot produce sufficient RBCs, leading to anaemia.

When to See a Doctor

Generally, anaemia in newborn babies is a common condition that resolves on its own as the baby's health improves. Improved nutrition will increase RBC production and resolve anaemia.

Observing your newborn closely and being informed about the signs and symptoms of anaemia is extremely important. Schedule a visit with your doctor if your baby is pale, unable to feed and is not gaining weight. In such cases, the physician will treat anaemia with medication.

Diagnosis of Anemia in Newborns

Your doctor will examine the baby and perform some tests to diagnose anaemia. Below are some of the tests and information the doctor may use for diagnosis:

  • Family history of genetic disorders that cause anaemia.
  • Prenatal reports, delivery details, birth injuries, and other information are examined.
  • A prenatal ultrasound scan is used to detect anaemia during pregnancy. 
  • Blood tests and symptoms. 

Treatment for Anemia in Newborns

Premature babies with mild to moderate anaemia do not require any active treatment. They are kept under constant observation, and their vital signs are closely monitored. In cases of severe anaemia, the treatment varies depending on the cause of the anaemia.

Anaemia due to severe blood loss

Fluids are given intravenously. Blood transfusion is the choice of treatment in these cases where blood is lost due to injuries. Small amounts of blood are given to the baby to improve the blood count. 

Anaemia caused by infections

In such cases, the physician will treat the infections with medicines, and supportive treatment is given as fluids. In unresponsive cases, blood transfusions may be required.

Anaemia with jaundice 

The baby is kept in a chamber with blue-green light, decreasing the breakdown of RBCs. When anaemia is a complication of jaundice, treating jaundice will improve the RBC levels in the newborn.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Amritsar - Abadi Court Road. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Should I schedule regular visits with the doctor if my baby has anemia?

Yes, your doctor will examine the baby and schedule further visits depending on the severity of the anaemia.

2. What is the homecare advice for babies with anemia?

Homecare involves daily breastfeeding at fixed times. The baby receives iron from the mother's milk, which is necessary for new blood cell formation.

3. How do I know my newborn has anemia?

You have to closely observe the baby's feeding habits because if the baby does not feed and you see no gain in weight, your baby may have anaemia.

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