Anemia of Prematurity Medication

Updated: Jan 08, 2016
  • Author: George Cassady, MD; Chief Editor: Ted Rosenkrantz, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

Drugs used to treat anemia of prematurity (AOP) are those that stimulate erythropoiesis and provide nutritional substrate needs. Ferrous sulfate/iron dextran, vitamin E, and folic acid, along with epoetin alfa, which stimulates RBC production, are among those administered.


Growth Factors

Class Summary

These agents are hormones that stimulate the production of red cells from the erythroid tissues in the bone marrow.

Epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit)

This is used to stimulate erythropoiesis and decrease the need for erythrocyte transfusions in high-risk preterm neonates. Epoetin alfa stimulates the division and differentiation of committed erythroid progenitor cells. It induces the release of reticulocytes from bone marrow into the bloodstream.

Infants require supplemental iron. Some physicians also use vitamin E and folate.


Vitamins and Minerals

Class Summary

These are organic substances required by the body in small amounts for various metabolic processes. They are used clinically for the prevention and treatment of specific deficiency states.

Ferrous sulfate (PO)/iron dextran (IV)

This is a nutritionally essential inorganic substance. It is the mainstay treatment for patients with iron deficiency anemia.

Vitamin E (Aquasol E, Aquavit E)

Vitamin E protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in membranes from attack by free radicals and protects RBCs against hemolysis. It is available as PO liquid drops (15 IU/0.3 mL).

Folic acid (Folacin-800)

Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin used in nucleic acid synthesis. Required for normal erythropoiesis, it is an important cofactor for enzymes used in production of RBCs.