Role of rHuEpo on blood transfusions in preterm infants after the fifteenth day of life

M Testa, A Reali, M Copula, B Pinna, F Birocchi, C Pisu, F Chiappe
Pediatric Hematology and Oncology 1998, 15 (5): 415-20
The specific aim of the study was to assess the safety and efficacy of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) in reducing the need for blood transfusions in preterm infants after the 15th day of life. Between 1 October 1994 and 1 October 1995, 107 preterm infants, gestational age < or = 34 weeks, were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and received rHuEpo subcutaneously, 900 U/kg week-1, 3 times weekly, supplemented with iron and vitamin E. Treatment was started at 8 days of life and lasted from a minimum of 6 weeks to a maximum of 3 months. A total of 116 preterm infants of the same gestational age, admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from 1 January 1992 to 31 December 1992, served as controls. Entry criteria were gestational age < or = 34 weeks and no major congenital malformation. There were no differences in routine care between the two groups. Hematological measurements and transfusion requirements were followed during therapy. The infants were divided into two groups according to birth weight (< 1500 g and > or = 1500 g), and for each group the number of patients who received blood transfusions and when blood transfusions occurred, before or after the 15th day of life, was recorded. There was a statistically significant difference only for transfusions carried out after the 15th day of life (p < 0.002). No adverse effects attributable to rHuEpo during the treatment were noted. The results indicate that early rHuEpo treatment, in combination with iron supplements, is effective in reducing the need for blood transfusions in preterm infants after the 15th day of life.

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