Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt. Electronic address: O_magdy09@alexmed.edu.eg. Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt.
BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS To evaluate the effects of enteral administration of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) on feeding-related complications in preterm infants. PATIENTS AND METHODS This double-blind, randomized controlled pilot study enrolled 120 preterm infants born ≤ 32 weeks' gestation who were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit in a tertiary hospital; 60 patients randomly received recombinant human erythropoietin
while the other 60 received placebo. Newborns who underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation, infants with genetic syndromes, infants with inborn errors of metabolism, infants with major congenital or acquired gastrointestinal tract malformations, infants with previous use of parenteral growth factors such as recombinant human erythropoietin and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimuating factor (GM-CSF) and infants previously treated with intravenous immunoglobulin were excluded. Overall, 48 patients withdrew from the study because of intravenous haematopoietic growth factor intake or death before treatment was completed. A total of 72 preterm infants remained in the study: 36 preterm infants in the erythropoietin (EPO) group, and 36 preterm infants in the placebo group. The day that enteral feeding was successfully started, the time to establishing one-half, two-thirds, and full enteral feedings (reaching at least 150 mL/kg/day), the number of episodes of feeding intolerance, the time to regain birth weight and the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) were recorded. RESULTS Both groups showed no significant difference in the time to achieve one-half, two-thirds, or full enteral feeding, no signs of feeding intolerance, and no cases of NEC were recorded. CONCLUSION Enteral erythropoietin does not appear to affect feeding intolerance or NEC incidence.