Prematurity Medication

Updated: May 10, 2023
  • Author: Susan A Furdon, RNC, NNP-BC, MS; Chief Editor: Dharmendra J Nimavat, MD, FAAP  more...
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Medication Summary

Prematurity is not a specific illness. Medications administered to an infant are prescribed for a specific purpose and are discussed in each of the articles mentioned previously about specific disease processes.

A 2013 study found that injections of the erythropoiesis-stimulating agent darbepoetin alfa (Darbe) may eliminate or reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions in preterm infants. [60, 61] In the study, which included 102 preterm infants at four high-altitude medical centers, infants were randomized to treatment with erythropoietin (Epo) 400 U/kg, given subcutaneously thrice weekly; darbepoetin alfa 10 μg/kg, given subcutaneously once a week with sham dosing two other times a week; or placebo in three sham doses a week through 35 weeks' gestation, discharge, transfer to another hospital, or death. Doses were adjusted for body weight weekly. [60, 61]

Infants in the darbepoetin alfa and erythropoietin groups received significantly fewer transfusions and had significantly fewer donor exposures than those in the placebo group, and 59% of the darbepoetin alfa-treated infants and 52% of the erythropoietin-treated infants received no transfusions at all, compared with 38% of infants in the placebo group. Compared with infants in the placebo group, darbepoetin alfa- and erythropoietin-treated infants had significantly higher changes in absolute reticulocyte counts and hematocrits. [60, 61] Use of an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent can be helpful; however, the potential for neovascularization and tumor progression cannot be ignored. [62]