The effects of red blood cell transfusion on the incidences of apnoea, bradycardia, tachycardia and oxygen desaturation over periods of 72 hours before and after transfusion were assessed in 25 infants with a gestational age of < or = 32 weeks (mean (SEM) 29.2 (0.4) weeks, birthweight 1170 (73) g; postnatal age at transfusion 39 (4) days). During transfusion haemoglobin rose from 78 (2) g/l to 117 (2) g/l. Significant decreases were observed in daily frequencies of apnoeas longer than 15 seconds (median from 2.7 to 0.9 events a day), tachycardias of more than 200 beats per minute (from 34 to 25 events per day), bradycardias below 100 beats per minute (from 65 to 12 events per day) and 80 beats per minute (from 8.4 to 3.3 events per day). Oxygen saturation improved in 20 of the infants. Transfusion improves cardiorespiration in preterm infants for several days.
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