Objective: To determine whether extremely low birth weight infants (ELBW) transfused at lower hemoglobin thresholds versus higher thresholds have different rates of survival or morbidity at discharge.
Study design: Infants weighing <1000 g birth weight were randomly assigned within 48 hours of birth to a transfusion algorithm of either low or high hemoglobin transfusion thresholds. The composite primary outcome was death before home discharge or survival with any of either severe retinopathy, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or brain injury on cranial ultrasound. Morbidity outcomes were assessed, blinded to allocation.
Results: Four hundred fifty-one infants were randomly assigned to low (n = 223) or high (n = 228) hemoglobin thresholds. Groups were similar, with mean birth weight of 770 g and gestational age of 26 weeks. Fewer infants received one or more transfusions in the low threshold group (89% low versus 95% high, P = .037). Rates of the primary outcome were 74.0% in the low threshold group and 69.7% in the high (P = .25; risk difference, 2.7%; 95% CI -3.7% to 9.2%). There were no statistically significant differences between groups in any secondary outcome.
Conclusions: In extremely low birth weight infants, maintaining a higher hemoglobin level results in more infants receiving transfusions but confers little evidence of benefit.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00182390.