Anaemia means a decrease in haemoglobin concentration. Infants who are born premature (especially those born before 32 weeks gestation) are at increased risk of having anaemia The more premature the infant, the more likely the development of AOP. It usually spontaneously resolves by 3 to 6 months after birth.
Symptoms may be non-specific such as difficulty feeding, baby may appear pale, increased work of breathing or oxygen requirements, apnoea, and increase in heart rate, lethargy or poor weight gain.
Good antenatal and prenatal care can help reduce incidence of anaemia in the newborn. Measures to minimize blood loss, such as timing of cord clamping when baby is born as well as reducing amount or frequency of blood taken during blood sampling, are also useful.
Diagnosis is based on the haemoglobin level on the full blood count as well as gestational age of the baby.
Recombinant erythropoietin treatment may be given to stimulate red blood cell production in premature infants and they may be started on iron supplements. Red blood cell transfusion can also be considered depending on baby’s haemoglobin level and symptoms.
Red blood cell transfusion may be required before surgery in the event that the baby requires any.