Background: Platelet transfusions are commonly used to prevent bleeding in preterm infants with thrombocytopenia. Data are lacking to provide guidance regarding thresholds for prophylactic platelet transfusions in preterm neonates with severe thrombocytopenia.
Methods: In this multicenter trial, we randomly assigned infants born at less than 34 weeks of gestation in whom severe thrombocytopenia developed to receive a platelet transfusion at platelet-count thresholds of 50,000 per cubic millimeter (high-threshold group) or 25,000 per cubic millimeter (low-threshold group). Bleeding was documented prospectively with the use of a validated bleeding-assessment tool. The primary outcome was death or new major bleeding within 28 days after randomization.
Results: A total of 660 infants (median birth weight, 740 g; and median gestational age, 26.6 weeks) underwent randomization. In the high-threshold group, 90% of the infants (296 of 328 infants) received at least one platelet transfusion, as compared with 53% (177 of 331 infants) in the low-threshold group. A new major bleeding episode or death occurred in 26% of the infants (85 of 324) in the high-threshold group and in 19% (61 of 329) in the low-threshold group (odds ratio, 1.57; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06 to 2.32; P=0.02). There was no significant difference between the groups with respect to rates of serious adverse events (25% in the high-threshold group and 22% in the low-threshold group; odds ratio, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.67).
Conclusions: Among preterm infants with severe thrombocytopenia, those randomly assigned to receive platelet transfusions at a platelet-count threshold of 50,000 per cubic millimeter had a significantly higher rate of death or major bleeding within 28 days after randomization than those who received platelet transfusions at a platelet-count threshold of 25,000 per cubic millimeter. (Funded by the National Health Service Blood and Transplant Research and Development Committee and others; Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN87736839 .).