Transfusions After Birth Don't Help Much

Postpartum blood transfusion only slightly helps women anemic from blood loss during birth

(RxWiki News) Women who lose a lot of blood while giving birth may end up with acute postpartum anemia. A blood transfusion can help them feel a little less tired but may not be necessary.

The study, from the Netherlands, found that the decrease in fatigue was statistically significant, but it was not a dramatic decrease.

"Ask your OB if a transfusion is necessary after postpartum hemorrhage."

Lead author Dr. Johannes Duvekot, M.D., PhD, in the Obstetrics & Gynecology department of Erasmus MC in the Netherlands, found the difference in physical fatigue between getting the transfusion and skipping it in lieu of close supervision by a doctor was not significant enough to recommend the transfusion automatically for women with anemia.

Duvekot's team split 494 healthy women who experienced postpartum hemorrhaging into two groups. One group received a transfusion, and the other received "expectant management," during which they are closely monitored by the hospital staff.

The researchers defined serious blood loss as losing more than 1,000 mL or a hemoglobin count between 4.8 and 7.9 g/dL due to a decrease of 1.9.

They tracked the women for six weeks after birth and collected data on their quality of life and physical fatigue with self-reported questionnaires.

The blood loss did make the women feel extremely tired, but the blood transfusion only helped improve this fatigue a small amount, Duvekot's team found.

They therefore recommended that the blood transfusion was not the best route if the mother's hemoglobin count is fine.

The study was presented February 10 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in Dallas, TX. No information was available regarding the study's funding or financial disclosures of the authors.