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Evidence supports current transfusion practices for newborns

The Issue

Because of their immature immune systems, newborns have a higher risk of transfusion-associated graft-versus-host disease, where white blood cells from the transfusion produce immune cells that attack the recipient. To prevent this life-threatening condition, red blood cell units transfused to newborns are irradiated. Irradiation makes the red blood cells more fragile, so they are more likely to release their contents (such as potassium and hemoglobin) during storage. High levels of potassium can cause cardiac problems. Our researchers tested two methods that hospitals currently use to reduce potentially harmful substances from the irradiated units transfused to newborns.

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