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24-05-2016 | Neurology | News | Article

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Low-dose rhEPO may reap neuroprotective benefits for preterm infants

medwireNews: Clarification of the dose and duration at which to give recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) to preterm infants may be key to realising its neuroprotective properties.

This was previously suggested by Giancarlo Natalucci (University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland) and team after their trial of high-dose rhEPO (3000 IU/kg) given to preterm infants within 3 hours of birth and again at 12 to 18 hours and 36 to 42 hours afterwards failed to show neurological improvement at corrected 2 years of age versus placebo.

And the hypothesis is now supported by researchers in the Annals of Neurology whose study showed a 68% reduced risk of moderate-to-severe neurological disability at 18 months corrected age when a lower rhEPO dose of 500 IU/kg versus placebo was given intravenously to 688 preterm infants (≤32 week gestational age) within 72 hours of birth and repeated once every other day for 2 weeks.

Specifically, rhEPO significantly reduced the risk of cerebral palsy by 57% and of having a Mental Development Index score below 70 by 67%. It also reduced the risk of neonatal brain injury.

“[T]his study provides important evidence for a safe and beneficial effect of rhEPO on improving the short-term and long-term outcomes in very preterm infants who received repeated low doses of rhEPO”, conclude Changlian Zhu (Zhengzhou University, China) and team.

By Lucy Piper

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2016

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