Severe hemolytic anemia associated with vitamin E deficiency in infants with cystic fibrosis. Implications for neonatal screening

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1994 Jan;33(1):2-7. doi: 10.1177/000992289403300101.


Three infants are described with cystic fibrosis (CF) and malnutrition leading to severe anemia beginning as early as 6 weeks of age. Laboratory studies demonstrated high reticulocyte counts, negative Coombs' tests, abnormal peroxide hemolysis test results, and biochemical evidence of vitamin E deficiency. Oral administration of alpha-tocopherol resulted in rapid correction of the in vitro hemolysis and improvement of in vivo hematologic indices. Investigation of these patients supports the conclusion that the hemolytic anemia of infancy in CF is caused by vitamin E deficiency and should be treated promptly with 50 IU/day of vitamin E. Because two of the three patients were identified in a CF screening/surveillance program, we can estimate that the frequency of clinically significant anemia in CF infants is 4%. Our observations demonstrate a potential advantage of CF neonatal screening for individual patients susceptible to vitamin E-deficient hemolytic anemia and suggest that confirmatory follow-up diagnostic studies, such as sweat tests, should be performed by 4 to 6 weeks of age.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Hemolytic / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Hemolytic / etiology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neonatal Screening
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / drug therapy


  • Vitamin E