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Transfusion reactions in pediatric compared with adult patients: a look at rate, reaction type, and associated products.

  • Oakley, Fredrick D1
  • Woods, Marcella
  • Arnold, Shanna
  • Young, Pampee P
  • 1 Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, Nashville, Tennessee.
Published Article
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2015
DOI: 10.1111/trf.12827
PMID: 25145580


The majority of reports on transfusion reactions address adult patients. Less is known about the types, incidence, and other clinical details of transfusion reactions in pediatric populations. Furthermore, to our knowledge, there have been no previous reports directly comparing these aspects between adults and pediatric patient populations to assess if there are differences. Between the period of January 1, 2011, and February 1, 2013, all reported adult and pediatric transfusion reactions at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) were evaluated by transfusion medicine clinical service. The information was subsequently shared with the hemovigilance database. Data provided to hemovigilance included age, sex, blood product associated with the reaction, severity of the reaction, and the type of transfusion reactions. These were collated with hospital and blood bank information system-acquired data on overall admission and product transfusion. A total of 133,671 transfusions were performed at VUMC during the study period including 20,179 platelet (PLT) transfusions, 31,605 plasma transfusions, 79,933 red blood cell (RBC) transfusions, and 2154 cryoprecipitate transfusions. Over the same period, 108 pediatric and 277 adult transfusion reactions were recorded. This corresponds to an incidence of 6.2 reactions per 1000 transfusions within the pediatric (age < 21) population and an incidence of 2.4 reactions per 1000 transfusions within the adult population. In both adult and pediatric populations, transfusion reactions were most commonly associated with PLT, followed by RBC, and then plasma transfusions. Within the pediatric population, subset analysis identified multiple differences when compared to the adult population, including an increased incidence of allergic transfusion reactions (2.7/1000 vs. 1.1/1000, p < 0.001), febrile nonhemolytic transfusion reactions (1.9/1000 vs. 0.47/1000, p < 0.001), and hypotensive transfusion reactions (0.29/1000 vs. 0.078/1000, p < 0.05). Interestingly, while the reaction incidence was the same between sexes in adults, in pediatric patients, reactions were more common in male patients (7.9/1000 pediatric males vs. 4.3/1000 pediatric females, p < 0.01). To our knowledge this is the first study to provide detailed comparisons of acute transfusion reactions to all blood products between pediatric and adult populations at a single institution and supported by a single transfusion service and culture. Collectively these data provide insight into pediatric transfusion reactions and demonstrate a general increase in the incidence of transfusion reactions within the pediatric compared to adult population. © 2014 AABB.

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