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Anemia of prematurity means that a baby born early (prematurely) does not have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body.
All babies have some anemia when they are born. This is normal. But in premature babies, the number of red blood cells may decrease faster and go lower than in full-term babies. This may happen because:
This condition is usually not serious. But low oxygen levels in a premature infant can make other problems worse, such as heart and lung problems.
If the red blood cells do not carry enough oxygen to the body, your baby may:
Many babies don't have symptoms and don't need treatment. If your baby has symptoms, treatment may include:
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Jennifer Merchant MD - Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
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