Restrictive transfusion practices are increasingly being followed in pediatric intensive care units (PICU); consequently, more patients are discharged anemic from PICU. Given the possible impact of anemia on long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes, we aim to describe the epidemiology of anemia at PICU discharge in a mixed (pediatric and cardiac) cohort of PICU survivors and to characterize risk factors for anemia.
We performed a retrospective cohort study in the PICU of a multidisciplinary tertiary-care university-affiliated center. All consecutive PICU survivors for whom a hemoglobin level was available at PICU discharge were included. Baseline characteristics and hemoglobin levels were extracted from an electronic medical records database.
From January 2013 to January 2018, 4750 patients were admitted to the PICU (97.1% survival); discharge hemoglobin levels were available for 4124 patients. Overall, 50.9% (n = 2100) were anemic at PICU discharge. Anemia at PICU discharge was also common in the cardiac surgery population (53.3%), mainly in acyanotic patients; only 24.6% of cyanotic patients were anemic according to standard definitions of anemia. Cardiac surgery patients were transfused more often and at higher hemoglobin levels than medical and non-cardiac surgery patients. Anemia at admission was the strongest predictor of anemia at discharge (odds ratios (OR): 6.51, 95% confidence interval (CI:5.40;7.85)).
Half of PICU survivors are anemic at discharge. Further studies are required to determine the course of anemia after discharge and to ascertain whether anemia is associated with adverse long-term outcomes.

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