Early erythropoietin for preventing necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm neonates - an updated meta-analysis

Department of Neonatology, Seth GS Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India. Department of Neonatology, Surya Hospitals, Mumbai, India. doctorhbk@gmail.com. Department of International Health, Global Disease Epidemiology & Control Program, John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Neonatal Directorate, Perth Children's Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia. School of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia. Neonatal Directorate, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia.

European Journal of Pediatrics. 2022;181(5):1821-1833
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Previous systematic reviews suggest reduction in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) among preterm infants supplemented with erythropoietin (EPO). We aimed to update our 2018 systematic review in this field considering the evidence accumulated over the last 3 years. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) reporting the effect of early EPO supplementation vs placebo/no EPO supplementation on any stage NEC in preterm infants were included. Fixed effect model was used for meta-analysis. Trial sequential analysis (TSA) was conducted to verify the effects of EPO on NEC after accounting for repeated significance testing. A total of 22 RCTs (n = 5359) were included, of which six were new (n = 2541 additional preterm infants) in comparison to our previous systematic review. EPO significantly decreased the risk of any stage NEC (232/2669 (8.7%) vs 313/2690 (11.6%); RR: 0·76; TSA adjusted 95% CI (0·64, 0·90); p = 0·0008, number needed to treat (NNT) = 34). The risk of definite NEC (≥ Stage II) was also significantly reduced by EPO administration (105/2219 (4.7%) vs 141/2246 (6.3%); RR: 0.77; 95% CI (0.61, 0.98); p = 0.03, NNT: 62). However, the results for definite NEC were no longer significant on sensitivity analyses that included (a) only double-blind RCTs and (b) only prospectively registered trials. The quality of evidence was deemed moderate-to-low for the reported outcomes. CONCLUSION There is moderate to low-quality evidence that early prophylactic EPO reduces any stage and ≥ Stage II NEC in preterm neonates. Prospectively registered, adequately powered, double-blind RCTs are required to confirm these findings. WHAT IS KNOWN • Experimental studies have shown that erythropoietin (EPO) has gastrointestinal trophic effects. • Systematic reviews have shown that early treatment with EPO may decrease the risk of gut injury in preterm or low birth weight infants. WHAT IS NEW • Early EPO supplementation significantly reduced the incidence of any stage NEC and definite NEC in preterm infants < 34 weeks of gestation. • EPO had no significant effect on definite NEC in the analyses that included only double-blinded and prospectively registered RCTs. How might it impact clinical practice in the foreseeable future? • Early prophylactic EPO can be recommended for NEC prevention if its benefits are consistently demonstrated in adequately powered randomized trials with a low risk of bias.
Study details
Study Design : Systematic Review
Language : eng
Credits : NLM