(HealthDay News) – Premature, very-low-birth-weight infants requiring a blood transfusion do equally well if they receive fresh red blood cells (RBCs) or standard blood bank RBCs, according to a study published online Oct 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association to coincide with presentation at the annual meeting of AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), held from Oct 6–9 in Boston.

Dean A Fergusson, MHA, PhD, from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada, and colleagues randomly assigned 377 premature, very-low-birth-weight (<1,250 g) infants in neonatal intensive care requiring at least one blood transfusion to fresh RBCs (stored seven days or less, mean age 5.1 days; 188 infants) or standard blood bank RBCs (mean age, 14.6 days; 189 infants).

The researchers found that a composite outcome of major neonatal morbidities within 90 days occurred in 52.7 percent of the fresh RBC group and 52.9% of the standard RBC group. The two groups also had similar rates of clinically suspected infection (77.7% and 77.2%, respectively) and positive cultures (67.5% and 64%, respectively).

“In this trial, the use of fresh RBCs compared with standard blood bank practice did not improve outcomes in premature, very low-birth-weight infants requiring a transfusion,” Fergusson and colleagues conclude. “We thus do not recommend any changes to storage time practices for the provision of RBCs to infants admitted to neonatal intensive care.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies and/or a law firm.

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