Retrospective case-control study of necrotizing enterocolitis and packed red blood cell transfusions in very low birth weight infants

Crabtree, C.S.*, Pakvasa, M, Radmacher, P.G, Adamkin, D.H. | JNPM 2018;

:The study objective was to explore the relationship between necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and packed red blood cell (pRBC) transfusion in very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates (<1500 g).
STUDY DESIGN:A six-year retrospective chart review of VLBW infants with NEC (Bell’s Stage > II) and a pRBC transfusion within 48 hours of diagnosis. Prenatal data, postnatal course, transfusion history, and NEC outcomes were reviewed. The transfusion associated necrotizing enterocolitis (TANEC) cases were matched with controls (1:2) who were transfused but did not develop NEC as to proximity of birth date, gestational age, and receipt of transfusion.
RESULTS:Of 1139 VLBW admissions, there were 73 cases of NEC and 30 cases of TANEC (annual NEC rate 6.4%). TANEC cases were matched with 60 controls who were transfused but never developed NEC. Neonatal profiles were similar between all 3 groups, except for a higher proportion of infants <10th percentile in the non-TANEC group. Days of antibiotics and frequency of patient ductus arteriosus (PDA) ligation were lower in controls compared to NEC cases. Lower feeding rate at diagnosis of NEC/match were more common in control infants compared to TANEC infants. However, feeding abstinence rates were similar between the two groups. The number of transfusions prior to diagnosis/match was similar in all groups. There was no significant difference in pre-transfusion hematocrit values between the groups.
CONCLUSION: TANEC was common among NEC cases. PDA ligation was similar among TANEC and non-TANEC but lower in controls. Similar pre-transfusion hematocrits were found among TANEC and controls. Feeding abstinence rates were also similar between TANEC and controls.

*Corresponding Author: 

Cynthia Crabtree, Pediatrics, Division of Neonatal Medicine, University of Louisville, 571S. Floyd St. Suite 342, Louisville, KY, 40202-3830, USA. Tel.: +1 5025525519; Fax: +1 502 852 8473; E-mail: