Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia in the newborn

J Vasc Surg. 1992 Feb;15(2):306-11; discussion 311-2. doi: 10.1067/mva.1992.33807.


This pilot study was initiated to determine whether heparin-induced thrombocytopenia occurs in the newborn and whether thromboembolic complications in the newborn could be related to heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Thirty-four infants in whom thrombocytopenia (less than 70,000/mm3) (n = 23), precipitous (30% to 50%) fall in platelet count (n = 5), or thromboses (n = 6) developed while they were receiving heparin were studied. Heparin-associated antiplatelet antibodies were demonstrated in 14 infants by platelet aggregation testing. The average gestational age (29 +/- 6 weeks); birth weight (1300 +/- 945 gm); and platelet count at birth (234,000/mm3 +/- 111,000/mm3) of these 14 infants did not differ statistically from the 20 infants without heparin-associated antiplatelet antibodies. An umbilical artery catheter was inserted in all infants except a single patient from each group. Aortic thrombosis was documented by abdominal ultrasonography in 11 of 13 (85%) infants with heparin-associated antiplatelet antibodies. One patient died with a midgut volvulus before the aorta could be examined. Five aortic thromboses were detected in the 20 infants without heparin-associated antiplatelet antibodies. Bleeding was not associated with the heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. One patient with previously demonstrated thrombocytopenia and heparin-associated antiplatelet antibodies had recurrent thrombocytopenia when reexposed to heparin; her platelet count recovered after heparin withdrawal. Thus heparin-induced thrombocytopenia does occur in preterm and term infants receiving heparin and is associated with arterial thromboses. Therefore infants receiving any form or amount of heparin must be carefully monitored for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia.1+

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Blood Platelets / immunology
  • Heparin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pilot Projects
  • Platelet Count
  • Thrombocytopenia / chemically induced*
  • Thrombocytopenia / diagnosis
  • Thrombocytopenia / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Heparin