HealthDay News — For newborns undergoing therapeutic hypothermia for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, erythropoietin administration does not yield a lower risk for death or neurodevelopmental impairment than placebo, according to a study published in the July 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Yvonne W. Wu, MD, MPH, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a multicenter, double-blind, randomized trial involving 501 infants born at 36 weeks of gestation or more with moderate or severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Participants were randomly assigned to receive erythropoietin or placebo, administered within 26 hours after birth and at 2, 3, 4, and 7 days of age, combined with standard therapeutic hypothermia. The modified intention-to-treat analysis included 500 infants: 257 and 243 received erythropoietin and placebo, respectively.

The researchers found that the incidence of death or neurodevelopmental impairment was 52.5 and 49.5% in the erythropoietin and placebo groups, respectively (relative risk, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.86 to 1.24; P =.74). The erythropoietin group had a higher mean number of serious adverse events per child compared with the placebo group (0.86 vs 0.67; relative risk, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.57).

“Multiple high doses of erythropoietin administered during the first week of age to newborns undergoing therapeutic hypothermia for moderate or severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy did not result in a lower risk of death or neurodevelopmental impairment than placebo,” the authors write.

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