The role of blood transfusions and iron intake on retinopathy of prematurity

Early Hum Dev. 2001 Apr;62(1):57-63. doi: 10.1016/s0378-3782(01)00115-3.


Background: The role of blood transfusions and iron intake in the pathogenesis or retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is controversial.

Aim: To evaluate the influence of packed red cell (PRC) transfusions and iron intake on ROP incidence.

Study design: Prospective observational study.

Subjects: Forty-five preterm infants with birthweight <1250 g were studied. After ophthalmological study, they were divided into group A (n=24) that included newborns without ROP, and group B (n=21) that included newborns with ROP.

Results: Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that gestational age (OR 0.61; 95% C.I. 0.41-0.90), transfusion volume during the first week (OR 1.16; 95% C.I. 1.03-1.3) and during the first 2 months of life (OR 2.93; 95% C.I. 1.52-5.62), and iron intake during the first week of life (OR 1.15; C.I. 1.01-1.32) and during the first 2 months of life (OR 2.93; 95% C.I. 1.52-5.62) were associated with the development of ROP.

Conclusion: Our study showed that gestational age, blood transfusion volume and iron load by transfusions are associated with the risk of occurrence of ROP in infants with a birthweight of less than 1250 g.

MeSH terms

  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / metabolism*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Logistic Models
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / epidemiology
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / etiology*
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / metabolism
  • Transfusion Reaction*


  • Iron, Dietary
  • Erythropoietin
  • Iron