BACKGROUND Blood transfusion is used in patients with severe malarial anaemia, but risks adverse reactions, transmission of disease, and is complicated to organise in developing countries. OBJECTIVES This review evaluates the effects of routine blood transfusion for severe anaemia on death and adverse outcomes in malarious areas. SEARCH STRATEGY We searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register (July 2006),
CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2006), MEDLINE (1966 to July 2006), EMBASE (1980 to July 2006), LILACS (July 2006), and reference lists of relevant articles. We contacted researchers and organizations working in the field. SELECTION CRITERIA Randomised and quasi-randomised trials of blood transfusion compared with conservative management in malaria-associated severe anaemia. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS Trials were identified and data extracted by a single reviewer (MM) and checked by a second (HS). Inclusion criteria were applied and data were extracted independently by both reviewers. MAIN RESULTS Two randomised trials of 230 children were included. In the transfusion group, there was a non-signficant tendency towards fewer deaths (RR 0.41, 95% CI 0.06 to 2.70), but a trend towards more severe adverse events (RR 8.60, 95% CI 1.11 to 66.43). In one trial by Bojang (1997a) respiratory distress was less common and hospital stay was shorter in the transfusion group (WMD 1.88 days, 95% CI 2.41 to 1.35). Subsequent need for urgent blood transfusion was less common in the transfusion group (RR 0.12, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.68). Day 28 packed cell volume was less in the transfusion group (WMD -1.34, 95% CI -2.57 to -0.11). There was no information on HIV or Hepatitis B virus transmission. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS There is insufficient data to be sure whether routinely giving blood to clinically stable children with severe anaemia in endemic malarious areas reduces death, or results in higher haematocrit measured at one month.