Erythropoietin provides neuroprotection to preterm infants

Premature baby in an incubator

Preterm infants are at risk of developing encephalopathy of prematurity, which is characterised by structural changes in the brain and long-term neurodevelopmental delay. Treatment options are limited, but new data reported in JAMA (online, 27 August 2014)[1] suggest that erythropoietin could provide neuroprotection to preterm infants.

Preliminary findings from the Swiss EPO Neuroprotection Trial found that preterm infants given three doses of recombinant human erythropoietin just before and just after birth were significantly less likely to have brain abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging than infants given placebo.

“These findings require assessment in a randomised trial designed primarily to assess this outcome, as well as investigation of the association with neurodevelopmental outcomes,” conclude Petra Susan Hüppi, from University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland, and her co-authors.



[1] Leuchter RH et al. Association Between Early Administration of High-Dose Erythropoietin in Preterm Infants and Brain MRI Abnormality at Term-Equivalent Age. JAMA 2014;312(8): 817–824.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 13 September 2014, Vol 293, No 7827;293(7827):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066304