Preterm neonates benefit from low prophylactic platelet transfusion threshold despite varying risk of bleeding or death
The Platelets for Neonatal Thrombocytopenia (PlaNeT-2) trial reported an unexpected overall benefit of a prophylactic platelet transfusion threshold of 25x109/L compared to 50x109/L for major bleeding and/or mortality in preterm neonates (7% absolute risk reduction). However, some neonates in the trial may have experienced little benefit or even harm from the 25x109/L threshold. We aimed to assess this heterogeneity of treatment effect in the PlaNet-2 trial, in order to investigate whether all preterm neonates benefit from the low threshold. We developed a multivariable logistic regression model in the PlaNet-2 data to predict baseline risk of major bleeding and/or mortality for all 653 neonates. We then ranked the neonates based on their predicted baseline risk and categorized them into four risk quartiles. Within these quartiles we assessed absolute risk difference between the 50x109/L and 25x109/L threshold group. A total of 146 neonates died or developed major bleeding. The internally validated C-statistic of the model was 0.63 (95% confidence interval 0.58 - 0.68). The 25x109/L threshold was associated with absolute risk reduction in all risk groups, varying from 4.9% in the lowest to 12.3% in the highest risk group. These results suggest that a 25x109/L prophylactic platelet count threshold can be adopted in all preterm neonates, irrespective of predicted baseline outcome risk. Future studies are needed to improve the predictive accuracy of the baseline risk model. Current Controlled Trials number ISRCTN87736839.