Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) in very low birth weight infants with anemia of prematurity.
Study design: Thirty infants were randomly assigned to receive either rHuEPO (300 U/kg per dose) or placebo twice a week. Hematologic parameters, transfusion requirements, caloric intake, and growth were monitored.
Results: The number and volume of erythrocyte transfusions were significantly lower in infants treated with rHuEPO. Serum ferritin levels, similar in both groups at study entry, fell and were significantly lower in rHuEPO-group infants at the completion of the study. An inverse correlation was observed between reticulocyte count and absolute neutrophil count both at entry and at completion of the study.
Conclusion: Twice-a-week administration of rHuEPO significantly reduces the need for erythrocyte transfusion in very low birth weight infants in stable condition. A significant decrease in serum ferritin levels in infants receiving rHuEPO suggests the need to determine the optimal dose of iron supplementation in these infants.