Uses and misuses of albumin during resuscitation and in the neonatal intensive care unit

Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017 Oct;22(5):328-335. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2017.07.009. Epub 2017 Jul 22.


Albumin is one of the most abundant proteins in plasma and serves many vital functions. Neonatal concentrations vary greatly with gestational and postnatal age. In critically ill neonates, hypoalbuminemia occurs due to decreased synthesis, increased losses or redistribution of albumin into the extravascular space, and has been associated with increased morbidities and mortality. For that reason, infusion of exogenous albumin as a volume expander has been proposed for various clinical settings including hypotension, delivery room resuscitation, sepsis and postoperative fluid management. Albumin is often prescribed in infants with hypoalbuminemia, hyperbilirubinemia, and protein-losing conditions. However, the evidence of these practices has not been reviewed or validated. Albumin infusion may initiate highly complex processes that vary according to the individual and disease pathophysiology. Indeed, it may be associated with harms when misused. In this review, we critically appraise the scientific evidence for administering albumin in most conditions encountered in the neonatal intensive care unit, while emphasizing the benefits and risks associated with their use.

Keywords: Albumin; Hypoalbuminemia; Pro-albumin; Resuscitation; Volume expansion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / adverse effects
  • Albumins / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Hypoalbuminemia / drug therapy*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Resuscitation*


  • Albumins