Anemia is a low level of red blood cells (RBCs). These cells are responsible for picking up oxygen in the lungs and delivering it to the rest of the body. Low levels of RBCs make it difficult for the body to get enough oxygen. If anemia is severe, it can lead to serious health problems.

Anemia of prematurity occurs in babies who are born earlier than expected.

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Anemia of prematurity may be caused by one or more of the following conditions:

  • Loss of blood due to:
    • Complications during labor and birth
    • Removal of blood for testing—regular blood tests are needed to monitor premature babies’ health
  • Decreased production of RBCs due to:
    • Nutrition problems
    • Certain infections like rubella or parvovirus that affect the bone marrow where RBCs are made
  • Destruction of RBCs may occur with medical conditions such as:
    • Incompatibility between mother’s and baby’s blood—Rh incompatibility
    • Hereditary disorders