Transfusion practices in a large cohort of hospitalized children


While previous studies have described the use of blood components in subsets of children, such as the critically ill, little is known about transfusion practices in hospitalized children across all departments and diagnostic categories. We sought to describe the utilization of red blood cell, platelet, plasma, and cryoprecipitate transfusions across hospital settings and diagnostic categories in a large cohort of hospitalized children.

Study Design and Methods

The public datasets from 11 US academic and community hospitals that participated in the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study-III (REDS-III) were accessed. All nonbirth inpatient encounters of children 0–18?years of age from 2013 to 2016 were included.


61,770 inpatient encounters from 41,943 unique patients were analyzed. Nine percent of encounters involved the transfusion of at least one blood component. RBC transfusions were most common (7.5%), followed by platelets (3.9%), plasma (2.5%), and cryoprecipitate (0.9%). Children undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass were most likely to be transfused. For the entire cohort, the median (interquartile range) pretransfusion laboratory values were as follows: hemoglobin, 7.9?g/dl (7.1–10.4?g/dl); platelet count, 27 × 109 cells/L (14–54 × 109 cells/L); and international normalized ratio was 1.6 (1.4–2.0). Recipient age differences were observed in the frequency of RBC irradiation (95% in infants, 67% in children, p?<?.001) and storage duration of RBC transfusions (median storage duration of 12 [8–17] days in infants and 20 [12–29] days in children, p?<?.001).


Based on a cohort of patients from 2013 to 2016, the transfusion of blood components is relatively common in the care of hospitalized children. The frequency of transfusion across all pediatric hospital settings, especially in children undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass, highlights the opportunities for the development of institutional transfusion guidelines and patient blood management initiatives.