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J Paediatr Child Health. 2001 Aug;37(4):352-8.

Effect of recombinant human erythropoietin on transfusion needs in preterm infants.

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  • 1Department of Neonatology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore. gneycl@sgh.com.sg



To study the efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness of recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO) in reducing erythrocyte transfusion needs in very low birthweight (VLBW) infants.


We conducted a non-blind randomized controlled trial and assigned 100 VLBW infants, less than 33 weeks gestation, to receive either r-HuEPO 750 U/kg per week subcutaneously from day 5 to day 40 or no erythropoietin (EPO). Infants received oral iron 3-6 mg/kg per day from day 10. Transfusion needs were analysed for all enrolled infants and in five weight subgroups: birthweight of less than 600 g, 600-799 g, 800-999 g, 1000-1199 g and infants more than 1200 g.


VLBW infants on r-HuEPO attained higher reticulocyte counts and haematocrit than control infants but the mean number of transfusions and volume of erythrocyte transfused per infant were not statistically different. Of infants 800-999 g at birth, the mean number of transfusions per infant was 2.1 compared with 3.5 transfusions per control infant (P = 0.04). Volume of erythrocytes transfused was 34.9 +/- 32.1 mL/kg in r-HuEPO-treated infants and 56.6 +/- 25.8 mL/kg in control infants (P = 0.03). The cost per patient for transfusion and EPO was S$388 for r-HuEPO recipient and S$438 for control infant. Blood pressure, neutrophil count, platelet count and complications of prematurity were not significantly different in both groups of VLBW infants.


r-HuEPO at 750 U/kg per week stimulates erythropoiesis in VLBW infants but significantly reduces the need for erythrocyte transfusion only in infants weighing 800-999 g at birth.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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