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Randomised controlled double blind study of role of recombinant erythropoietin in the prevention of chronic lung disease
  1. Gill Griffithsa,
  2. Ranjit Lallb,
  3. Sue Chatfieldc,
  4. Andrew Shortd,
  5. Peter Mackaye,
  6. Paula Williamsonb,
  7. Julia Brownb,
  8. Malcolm I Levenea
  1. aDepartment of Paediatrics, Leeds General Infirmary, bYorkshire Clinical Trials and Research Unit, cBradford Royal Infirmary, dHuddersfield Royal Infirmary, eDewsbury District Hospital
  1. Professor M I Levene, Centre for Reproduction, Growth and Development University of Leeds School of Medicine The General Infirmary at Leeds Leeds LS2 9NS.


AIM To evaluate the role of recombinant human erythropoietin (R-HuEpo) in reducing iron infusion, which may exacerbate free radical damage, leading to chronic lung disease.

METHODS A multicentre, randomised, placebo controlled, double blind study was carried out in four neonatal intensive care units in Yorkshire. Infants were randomly allocated and received either R-HuEpo (480 U/kg/wk) or placebo by twice weekly subcutaneous injection. The primary outcome measure was the number of days on respiratory support and a secondary outcome the number of blood transfusions required.

RESULTS Forty two very low birthweight (VLBW) infants were randomly allocated. There was little difference in the need for respiratory support one month after randomisation, but subsequently there was a trend towards a reduction in the proportion requiring respiratory support in the R-HuEpo group (difference at three months −0.50, 95% confidence interval −1.00, 0.17). During stay in hospital, the median number of blood transfusions was lower for infants in the R-HuEpo group (difference in medians −2, 95% CI −4, 0). The study was stopped early because of failure to recruit babies at the expected rate.

CONCLUSIONS R-HuEpo seems to reduce the number of days in oxygen for ill VLBW infants. These data could be used to construct a larger multicentre study to evaluate this effect further.

  • human erythropoietin
  • respiratory support
  • blood transfusions
  • chronic lung disease

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