What is anemia? Anemia involves a shortage red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the body tissues. Anemia results from the short life of red blood cells in an infant, and a preemie's delayed process of making new ones.
Is anemia dangerous? If left untreated, anemia can lead to poor weight gain and growth, decreased activity, increased heart rate, and developmental delays. Babies suffering from anemia at 8 months of age have been found to perform poorly on developmental tests -- particularly those assessing motor skills.
How is anemia treated? Anemia doesn't always need to be treated if it isn't severe and if the baby isn't sick or having frequent laboratory tests. If treatment is necessary, it's usually done through transfusions of red blood cells obtained from a blood bank. Anemia can also be treated with a drug similar to the substance the body normally produces to increase the number of red blood cells. As the baby grows, he may need an additional source of iron to speed up the production of red blood cells.