Anemia in Infants: What You Need to Know
Severe neonatal anemia can have serious repercussions upon infants. Immediate and proper screening is essential in preventing complications. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests anemia screening between the ages of 9 to 12 months. Moreover, additional screening is also recommended from ages 1-5, giving special attention to the child’s likelihood of acquiring iron-deficiency anemia.
If your infant is diagnosed with anemia, it is crucial to arm yourself with information regarding this illness. Knowing why and how it happens and what to do can help you decide on the best action to take.
Anemia in Infants
Anemia is a health disorder in which the red blood cells count is too few, or is not functioning properly. It happens when red blood cells or RBC’s break down too rapidly at a rate faster than they can be replaced, or when the bone marrow could not produce enough RBC’s.
Too much blood loss can also lead to anemia in newborns (neonatal anemia) due to birth injury, for instance. Too much and rapid blood loss causes shock in the newborn, and they may become seriously ill. Infants that are born prematurely are also at risk of neonatal anemia.
Leading Causes of Anemia in Infants
In newborns, it is normal to have a lowered RBC concentration due to increased tissue oxygenation after birth. It is called physiologic anemia. It usually occurs without any accompanying symptoms (or asymptomatic) and stabilizes in time.
However, another type of anemia in infants called pathologic anemia is one that should be watched out for. Infants with this type of anemia have a lowered level of oxygen-transporting hemoglobin in their blood.
Here are the main causes of neonatal anemia: