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Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2001;51(3):150-6.

Erythropoietin in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.


The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) combined with parenteral iron, in the treatment of moderate and severe iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Twenty-six pregnant women, who had been ineffectively treated with iron supplementation alone for at least 8 weeks, were enrolled. They met the following criteria for inclusion in the study: hemoglobin (Hb) concentration <8.5 g/dl, evidence of iron deficiency anemia, and absence of other pregnancy complications, or severe systemic diseases. The treatment protocol comprised of a combination therapy with 150 IU/kg rHuEPO subcutaneously three times per week and 100 mg parenteral iron daily, for a total period of 4 weeks. Nineteen out of 26 women (73%) showed a quick response, with Hb reaching normal levels within the first 2 weeks of treatment. They displayed an average of 3.17 g/dl increase in Hb concentration during the total period of therapy, with 3.0 g/dl increase within the first 2 weeks. In 5 women (19.2%) there was no significant increase in Hb levels, while in 2 women (7.6%) a further decline in Hb concentration was observed, that necessitated a blood transfusion. In conclusion, rHuEPO combined with parenteral iron is an effective treatment for moderate and severe iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy, with minimal adverse or side effects. It may serve as an alternative to blood transfusion, or in cases of resistant anemia that are not effectively treated by iron supplementation alone. However, further studies are needed to investigate the poor response observed in about 25% of treated patients.

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