HealthDay News — Prophylactic early high-dose recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) given intravenously to very preterm infants does not improve neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years corrected age, according to a study published in the May 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Giancarlo Natalucci, MD, from the University of Zurich, and colleagues randomized preterm infants born between 26 weeks 0 days and 31 weeks 6 days of gestation to receive rhEPO (228 infants) or placebo (220 infants) intravenously after birth. The authors assessed cognitive development with the Mental Development Index (MDI) at 2 years corrected age as the primary outcome.

The researchers found that at a mean age of 23.6 months, neurodevelopmental outcome data were available for 81% of infants. The mean MDI was not statistically significantly different between the rhEPO and placebo groups (93.5 versus 94.5; P = 0.56) The groups did not differ in terms of secondary outcomes.

“Among very preterm infants who received prophylactic early high-dose rhEPO for neuroprotection, compared with infants who received placebo, there were no statistically significant differences in neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years,” the authors write. “Follow-up for cognitive and physical problems that may not become evident until later in life is required.”

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