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Red cell and platelet transfusions in neonates: a population-based study
  1. Jennifer R Bowen1,2,
  2. Jillian A Patterson3,
  3. Christine L Roberts3,
  4. James P Isbister2,
  5. David O Irving4,
  6. Jane B Ford3
  1. 1Department of Neonatology, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Clinical and Population Perinatal Health Research, Kolling Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Department of Research and Development, Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Jillian Patterson, Clinical & Population Perinatal Health Research, c/- University Dept of O&G, Building 52, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia; jillian.patterson{at}


Objectives This study aimed to describe the use of red cells, platelets and exchange transfusions among all neonates in a population cohort, to examine trends in transfusion over time and to determine transfusion rates in at-risk neonates.

Design Linked population-based birth and hospital data from New South Wales (NSW), Australia, were used to determine rates of blood product transfusion in the first 28 days of life. The study included all live births ≥23 weeks’ gestation in NSW between 2001 and 2011.

Results Between 2001 and 2011, 5326 of 989 491 live born neonates received a red cell, platelet or exchange transfusion (5.4/1000 births). Transfusion rates were 4.8 per 1000 for red cells, 1.3 per 1000 for platelets and 0.3 per 1000 for exchange transfusion. Overall transfusion rate remained constant from 2001 to 2011 (p=0.27). Among transfused neonates, 60% were <32 weeks' gestation (n=3210, 331/1000 births), 40% were ≥32 weeks' gestation (n= 2116, 2/1000 births) and 7% received transfusions in a hospital without a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Factors other than prematurity associated with higher transfusion rates were prior in utero transfusion (631/1000), congenital anomaly requiring surgery (440/1000) and haemolytic disorder (106/1000).

Conclusions In this population-based study, preterm neonates had a higher rate of transfusion than term neonates; however, 40% of those who received a transfusion were born ≥32 weeks' gestation and 7% were transfused in hospitals without an NICU. These findings need to be considered by transfusion services and personnel developing neonatal transfusion guidelines.

  • Epidemiology
  • Neonatology
  • Haematology

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