Commentary: is it safe to limit allogeneic red blood cell transfusions to neonates?

Neonatology. 2008;93(4):217-22. doi: 10.1159/000111099. Epub 2007 Nov 16.


Two randomized clinical trials, conducted independently, have reported results of neonates transfused with red blood cells (RBCs) given per either liberal (relatively high pretransfusion blood hematocrit levels) or restrictive (relatively low pretransfusion blood hematocrit levels) transfusion programs. Both found fewer RBC transfusions given per restrictive programs and comparable outcomes for several clinical endpoints. However, the Iowa trial found significantly more problems with apnea, intraparenchymal brain hemorrhage and periventricular leukomalacia in infants transfused per the restrictive program - findings not found by the Canadian trial. A critical analysis of both trials and possible reasons for the discrepant findings are discussed. Until definitive data are reported by additional studies, it seems prudent not to severely restrict/limit allogeneic RBC transfusions to neonates - except in approved investigational settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Erythrocyte Transfusion*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / blood*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / etiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Transplantation, Homologous