Prematurity, maternal diabetes, maternal smoking, being medically underserved, and small size for gestational age are common characteristics of neonates in the NICU and can predispose them to develop congenital iron deficiency. Iron is critical for organ development. In the fetus and newborn, iron is prioritized for red blood cell production, sometimes at the expense of other tissues, including the brain. It is critical to optimize iron levels in newborns to support erythropoiesis, growth, and brain development. Available studies support improved neurodevelopmental outcomes with either iron supplementation or delayed umbilical cord clamping at birth. Erythropoietic doses of erythropoietin/erythrocyte-stimulating agents may also improve neurocognitive outcomes. However, the literature on the effect of liberal red blood cell transfusions on long-term neurodevelopment is mixed. Understanding age-specific normal values and monitoring of iron indices can help individualize and optimize the iron status of patients in the NICU.

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