Effect of blood transfusions on cognitive development in very low birth weight infants
Journal of perinatology : official journal of the California Perinatal Association. 2021
OBJECTIVE Preterm infants frequently receive red cell transfusions; however, the effect of transfusions on cognition is unclear. We evaluated the relationship between transfusions and cognitive outcomes in preterm infants enrolled in a randomized trial of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs). STUDY DESIGN Preterm infants were randomized to ESAs or placebo during initial hospitalization, and transfusions recorded. Children were evaluated using standard developmental tests of cognition at 18-22 months (56 ESA, 24 placebo) and 3.5-4 years (39 ESA, 14 placebo). RESULTS Cognitive scores at 18-22 months were inversely correlated with transfusion volume (p = 0.02). Among those receiving ≥1 transfusion, cognitive scores were significantly higher in the ESA-treated group (p = 0.003). At 3.5-4 years, transfusions were not correlated with cognitive scores. CONCLUSIONS In the placebo group, transfused children had lower cognitive scores than did non-transfused children at 18-22 months. In the ESA group, cognitive scores did not differ by transfusion status, suggesting ESAs might provide neuroprotection.
A randomized, masked, placebo-controlled study of darbepoetin alfa in preterm infants
BACKGROUND A novel erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA), darbepoetin alfa (Darbe), increases hematocrit in anemic adults when administered every 1 to 3 weeks. Weekly Darbe dosing has not been evaluated in preterm infants. We hypothesized that infants would respond to Darbe by decreasing transfusion needs compared with placebo, with less-frequent dosing than erythropoietin (Epo). METHODS Preterm infants 500 to 1250 g birth weight and <=48 hours of age were randomized to Darbe (10 ug/kg, 1 time per week subcutaneously), Epo (400 U/kg, 3 times per week subcutaneously) or placebo (sham dosing) through 35 weeks' gestation. All received supplemental iron, folate, and vitamin E, and were transfused according to protocol. Transfusions (primary outcome), complete blood counts, absolute reticulocyte counts (ARCs), phlebotomy losses, and adverse events were recorded. RESULTS A total of 102 infants (946 +/- 196 g, 27.7 +/- 1.8 weeks' gestation, 51 +/- 25 hours of age at first dose) were enrolled. Infants in the Darbe and Epo groups received significantly fewer transfusions (P = .015) and were exposed to fewer donors (P = .044) than the placebo group (Darbe: 1.2 +/- 2.4 transfusions and 0.7 +/- 1.2 donors per infant; Epo: 1.2 +/- 1.6 transfusions and 0.8 +/- 1.0 donors per infant; placebo: 2.4 +/- 2.9 transfusions and 1.2 +/- 1.3 donors per infant). Hematocrit and ARC were higher in the Darbe and Epo groups compared with placebo (P = .001, Darbe and Epo versus placebo for both hematocrit and ARCs). Morbidities were similar among groups, including the incidence of retinopathy of prematurity. CONCLUSIONS Infants receiving Darbe or Epo received fewer transfusions and fewer donor exposures, and fewer injections were given to Darbe recipients. Darbepoetin and Epo successfully serve as adjuncts to transfusions in maintaining red cell mass in preterm infants.