BACKGROUND: Some preterm infants with a Grade 1 intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) are subsequently found to have a Grade 3 or 4 IVH, while in others the Grade 1 resolves without extending.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: We identified all neonates in our health system in the past 6 years with a Grade 1 IVH and compared those where the hemorrhage extended versus resolved.

RESULTS: Grade 1 IVH was identified in 417 neonates; 24 subsequently became a Grade 3, and 22 a Grade 4. These 46 were born earlier, 25 ± 2 weeks versus 30 ± 3 weeks (p = 0.000), with lower birth weight, 811 ± 284 g versus 1432 ± 603 g (p = 0.000); lower 5-minute Apgar scores, 5 ± 2 versus 8 ± 2 (p = 0.000); and slightly lower cord pH, 7.24 ± 0.16 versus 7.28 ± 0.10 (p = 0.009). Older gestational age was the most significant contributor lowering the odds of IVH extension (odds ratio [OR], 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.92-0.98). Administering a red blood cell (RBC) transfusion up to and on the day the Grade 1 was detected was the most significant contributor increasing the odds (OR, 2.92; 95% CI, 2.19-3.90) of extension. In both groups (resolving vs. extending) criteria for ordering transfusions were similar as was the proportion of transfusions given out of compliance with guidelines.

CONCLUSIONS: An association exists between RBC transfusion and extension of a Grade 1 IVH into a Grade 3 or 4. However, the explanation is unclear and could involve either the reasons transfusion are ordered or the transfusions themselves. Additional studies are needed to discover why neonates are more likely to have IVH extension if transfused.