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Anaemia of Prematurity

Anaemia of Prematurity - What it is

​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.

Anaemia of Prematurity - Symptoms

​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.

Anaemia of Prematurity - How to prevent?

​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.

Anaemia of Prematurity - Causes and Risk Factors

Babies who are born premature are at increased risk of having anaemia due to the following factors:
  • Decreased production of red blood cells – as premature babies have not had the chance to undergo normal transition in red cell production and the bone marrow is not functioning optimally yet
  • Shorter life span or increased rate of breakdown of red blood cells - as the average life span of a neonatal red blood cell is only one-half to two-thirds compared to an adult’s
  • Blood loss – such as due to direct trauma during delivery or frequent blood sampling 

Anaemia of Prematurity - Diagnosis

​Diagnosis is based on the haemoglobin level on the full blood count as well as gestational age of the baby.

Anaemia of Prematurity - Treatments

​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. 

Anaemia of Prematurity - Preparing for surgery

​Red blood cell transfusion may be required before surgery in the event that the baby requires any.

Anaemia of Prematurity - Post-surgery care

Anaemia of Prematurity - Other Information

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