Study reviews scope of improvements in neonatal intensive care for anaemic babies

August 2022 Clinical practice Nalinee Pathak

Every other newborn prematurely receives transfusions of red blood cells (RBCs) due to anaemia. In general, there is a lack of accepted guidelines for the degree of anaemia at which the newborn should be administered blood transfusion. Towards this, researchers from MedUni Vienna have critically reviewed the literature available in the field. This review intends to impetus further research in the area and to bring about clinical improvements in neonatal intensive care.  This review has been published in the prestigious journal, The Lancet Haematology.

This review team was led by Angelika Berger and Vito Giordano from the Division of Neonatology, Intensive Care Medicine and Neuropediatrics at MedUni Vienna’s Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. They discuss the difficulty in comparing various clinical studies which makes it virtually impossible to come up with clinical guidelines. Furthermore, it is also difficult to determine if RBC transfusions are associated with complications in preterm infants such as diseases of the intestine (necrotising enterocolitis), retina (retinopathy of prematurity) or the lung (bronchopulmonary dysplasia), or neurodevelopmental impairments. However, the authors do suggest that the administration of foetal red blood cells obtained from umbilical cord blood could be a new option.

In conclusion, the authors indicate the available potential for improving neonatal Intensive care medicine. The study leader said, “Our review is intended as an impetus to research and to develop improvements in therapeutic options for preterm infants.”


Bellach, L., et al. (2022) Packed red blood cell transfusion in preterm infants. The Lancet Haematology.