Bleeding in neonates with severe thrombocytopenia: a retrospective cohort study

BMC Pediatr. 2022 Dec 22;22(1):730. doi: 10.1186/s12887-022-03802-4.


Background: Severe neonatal thrombocytopenia is a rare disease with multiple etiologies. Severe thrombocytopenia with bleeding is life-threatening and has attracted significant attention from clinicians. However, only a few studies have focused on the association between severe thrombocytopenia and bleeding. Thus, this study aimed to describe the neonates' postnatal age at which severe thrombocytopenia was first recognized, clinical characteristics, bleeding patterns, and outcomes and to evaluate the association between minimum platelet count and bleeding.

Methods: A single-center retrospective cohort study for neonates with severe thrombocytopenia (platelet count ≤ 50 × 109/L) was conducted. Neonates who were admitted to our neonatal intensive care unit between October 2016 and February 2021 and developed severe thrombocytopenia were analyzed. Data were collected retrospectively until the patients were referred to other hospitals, discharged, or deceased.

Results: Among the 5819 neonatal inpatients, 170 with severe thrombocytopenia were included in this study. More than 30% of the patients had severe thrombocytopenia in the first 3 days of life. Among the 118 neonates with bleeding, 47 had more than one type of pathological bleeding. Neonates with very severe thrombocytopenia (point estimate: 53.7%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 44.2%-63.1%) had a higher incidence rate of cutaneous bleeding than those with severe thrombocytopenia (point estimate: 23.4%, 95% CI: 12.3%-34.4%). The gestational age (median: 36.2 [interquartile range [IQR]: 31.4-39.0] weeks) and birth weight (median: 2310 [IQR: 1213-3210] g) of the major bleeding group were the lowest among no bleeding, minor bleeding, and major bleeding groups. Regression analysis controlled for confounders and confirmed that a lower platelet count (odds ratio [OR]: 2.504 [95% CI: 1.180-5.314], P = 0.017) was associated with a significant increase in the rate of bleeding. Very severe thrombocytopenia (point estimate: 49.1%, 95% CI: 39.6%-58.6%) had a higher rate of platelet transfusion than severe thrombocytopenia (point estimate: 5.7%, 95% CI: 0.7%-10.7%). The mortality rate was higher in neonates with bleeding than in those without bleeding (point estimates with 95% CI: 33.1% [24.4%-41.7%] vs. 7.7% [0.2%-15.2%]).

Conclusions: These findings describe the incidence of severe thrombocytopenia and demonstrate that a lower platelet count is associated with an increased bleeding rate in patients with severe thrombocytopenia.

Keywords: Bleeding; Neonates; Platelet transfusion; Severe; Thrombocytopenia.

MeSH terms

  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Platelet Count
  • Platelet Transfusion / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thrombocytopenia* / complications