Roberts I., Murray NA.
Thrombocytopenia (platelets <150 x 10(9)/L) is one of the most common haematological problems in neonates, particularly those who are preterm and sick. In those preterm neonates with early thrombocytopenia who present within 72 h of birth, the most common cause is reduced platelet production secondary to intrauterine growth restriction and/or maternal hypertension. By contrast, the most common causes of thrombocytopenia arising after the first 72 h of life, both in preterm and term infants, are sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis. The most important cause of severe thrombocytopenia (platelets <50 x 10(9)/L) is neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (NAIT), as diagnosis can be delayed and death or long-term disability due to intracranial haemorrhage may occur. Platelet transfusion is the mainstay of treatment for severe thrombocytopenia. However, the correlation between thrombocytopenia and bleeding is unclear and no studies have yet shown clinical benefit for platelet transfusion in neonates. Studies to identify optimal platelet transfusion practice for neonatal thrombocytopenia are urgently required.