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Sepsis Therapy in Preemies Fails to Boost Survival

Study suggests future treatments should focus on wider view of antibacterial defenses

FRIDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Boosting the immune systems of premature babies with blood cell growth factor fails to prevent sepsis or improve survival rates, a new study shows.

Premature babies, especially those with lower than normal birth weight, tend to be prone to infections from low white blood cell counts. Blood growth factors, such as granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), increase white blood cell counts and are often used in cancer patients to counter immune suppression caused by chemotherapy.

The London-based study, published in the current issue of The Lancet, found giving GM-CSF to premature babies with low birth weight did increase their white counts but, when compared with preterms who did not receive the treatment, they did not have lower rates of infection or better survival rates.

"We believe that, before embarking on future single-agent clinical trials, we should consider if this is too simplistic an approach to sepsis prevention in the preterm infant, whose immune system appears compromised in many different ways. ... Successful future stratagems will need a wider view of their antibacterial defenses," wrote the authors, lead by Robert Carr of Guy's and St Thomas Hospital NHS Trust in London.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about sepsis.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Jan. 15, 2009

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