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Pediatrics. 2006 Nov;118(5):2004-13.

Effects of a combined therapy of erythropoietin, iron, folate, and vitamin B12 on the transfusion requirements of extremely low birth weight infants.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology and Intensive Care, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.



Erythropoietin is frequently administered to premature infants to stimulate erythropoiesis. The primary goal of erythropoietin therapy is to reduce transfusions, but the efficacy of erythropoietin has not been convincingly demonstrated in this regard. The aim of this trial was to investigate whether combined administration of vitamin B12, folic acid, iron, and erythropoietin could decrease transfusion requirements in extremely low birth weight infants.


In a randomized, controlled trial, extremely low birth weight infants with a birth weight < or = 800 g and a gestational age < or = 32 weeks were randomly assigned to a group receiving combination treatment or a control arm.


The treatment increased levels of folate in red blood cells, vitamin B12, ferritin, transferrin receptor levels in plasma, and reticulocyte counts. The proportion of infants requiring no transfusions was lower in the treatment group (38%) as compared with controls (5%). The treatment group and the need for mechanical ventilation were independent predictors of the number of transfusions in multiple regression analysis. Cox regression analysis indicated that combined therapy resulted in a 79% risk reduction for any transfusion.


Combined treatment with erythropoietin, intravenous iron, folate, and vitamin B12 during the first weeks reduces the need for transfusion in extremely low birth weight infants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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