Objectives: The smallest premature neonates often receive blood transfusions early in life. Nonrestrictive transfusion policies are linked to deleterious outcomes. Exposure of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) to ambient light generates oxidation products associated with haemolysis in vitro. Shielding TPN from light limits oxidation. Our hypothesis was protecting TPN from light decreases haemolysis and therefore the need for early blood transfusions.
Methods: Comparison of haemolysis between animals fed enterally and those receiving TPN, and exploratory case-control retrospective analysis of transfusion counts in premature infants receiving light-exposed or light-protected TPN. The statistical analysis was analysis of variance and longitudinal binomial regression model adjusting for potential covariables of transfusion counts.
Results: In animals, TPN is associated with higher (P < 0.05) haemolysis compared with enteral feeds; photoprotection induces lower peroxide load with no effect on the level of haemolysis. In premature infants, light-exposed (n = 76) or light-protected (n = 57) populations exhibited similar clinical characteristics. Initial haematocrit, gestational age, and index of disease severity had a significant effect on the number of transfusions. When adjusting for these covariables, photoprotection was no longer significant.
Conclusions: Even though peroxides are associated in vitro with haemolysis, shielding TPN from light to reduce infused peroxides does not significantly decrease the need for early transfusions in premature infants.