Anemia In Newborn: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Anemia In Newborns? 

Neonatal Anemia occurs when a baby's red blood cell count is lower than normal. The majority of babies suffer from Anemia during the first few months after birth. This is due to the baby's rapid growth, and the fact that newborns take time to create red blood cells on their own. Babies between the ages of 9 and 24 months are frequently affected by Anemia (iron deficiency). 

Under normal conditions, a haemoglobin count of 14 to 24 g/dL or 140 to 240 g/L is ideal for newborns. When a newborn suffers from Anemia, the haemoglobin levels in the body are inadequate. A reduction in red blood cells and iron deficiency in the baby causes this deficiency. 

Your newborn usually suffers from a deficiency of iron, leading to this condition. If the count falls below 5 g/dl, it leads to serious medical conditions. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Anemia In Newborns 

Most babies with mild or moderate Anemia do not show any symptoms. Moderate Anemia in newborns may lead to poor feeding or laziness (Lethargy). However, your little angel may display the following signs and symptoms in severe cases of neonatal Anemia.

  • Pale skin 
  • Lips, eyelid lining, and nail beds appear less pink than usual
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Irritability and Fussiness
  • Lethargy or sluggishness 
  • Easily gets tired or takes more naps than normal 
  • Having yellow eyes or skin (jaundice) 
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Develop a sore tongue 

Your newborn needs to undergo the proper tests to determine whether they actually have Anemia. A newborn does not necessarily have this illness just because it exhibits some of the listed symptoms.  

When Should You See A Doctor?

If you notice any of the signs mentioned above and symptoms in your newborn, then consult the doctor immediately. 

Causes Of Anemia In Newborn

The following are a few of the causes and risk factors for Anemia in newborns

  • Red blood cells are destroyed in large amounts
  • Production of red blood cells is too low
  • There is not sufficient haemoglobin in the red blood cells

Tests to Diagnose Anemia in Newborns

Generally, the haemoglobin count is the first diagnostic tool, but the doctor will also analyse the RBC indices and the reticulocyte count. However, after your newborn has been physically examined and is found to have symptoms of the disease, a number of blood tests are performed to check for neonatal Anemia. These include:  

1. Hematocrit: A hematocrit test determines how much of your baby’s blood is made up of red blood cells. The amount and size of red blood cells determines this value.

2. Serum ferritin: The ferritin blood test determines the ferritin concentration in the blood. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron inside your infant's cells. It allows the body to utilise iron as needed. A ferritin test indirectly measures the level of iron in the blood. 

3. Serum iron: A serum iron test determines the amount of iron in your baby’s blood.

4. Total iron binding capacity (TIBC): This blood test determines whether your newborn’s blood contains excess amounts of iron or the level is too low. Iron circulates in the blood attached to a protein known as transferrin. This test informs your doctor about how well that protein distributes iron in your blood.

The Kleihauer-Betke test may be conducted on maternal blood to look for fetomaternal haemorrhage if the Anemia is being caused by haemorrhage or continuous blood loss. When there is pulmonary bleeding, a CXR can be done. To examine the possibility of more internal bleeding, ultrasound may be used. The illness may also be accurately diagnosed with blood smear tests.

Treatment Options for Anemia in Newborns

If your newborn has mild neonatal Anemia, then your doctor or paediatrician may prescribe nutritional supplements or cereals that are rich in iron, folate, and vitamin E. 

If the Anemia is severe, the infant might require a blood transfusion to compensate for the persistent deficiency. This is crucial for preserving the RBCs' ability to carry oxygen, which is necessary for the infant's survival. Until the infant is able to make enough red blood cells and raise the haemoglobin count, the blood transfusions may be continued.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Koramangala. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What infant is most at risk for anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia is more likely to occur in premature and low birth weight babies (less than 5.5 pounds).

2. What is considered severe anemia in newborns?

When the hemoglobin count is below 7.0 g/dl, then it is considered as severe anemia.

3. Is anemia in newborns life threatening?

Anemia can be fatal and even life-threatening if left untreated. It can also result in multi-organ failure if not ignored.

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