Thrombocytopenia in Neonates

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Authentic and Spurious Causes of Thrombocytopenia. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Thrombocytopenia in Neonates

Transplacental ITP may occur in newborn infants who are born to mothers with ITP. If the mother has had one baby born with thrombocytopenia, it is usually an indication that all subsequent infants will also be born with thrombocytopenia. A very small percentage of babies born with ITP will have severe thrombocytopenia.
Neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (NAIT) is caused by platelet destruction that is the result of alloantibodies stimulated by foreign antigens during pregnancy or blood transfusions. Platelet destruction by alloantibodies may occur in neonates if the mother lacks the platelet-specific antigen but the baby has inherited the antigen from its father. When maternal IgG antiplatelet antibodies cross the placenta, immune destruction of the neonate's platelets occurs.
The major concern with both of these conditions is intracranial bleeding if the neonate's platelet count is less than 50 X 109/L. NAIT has a high mortality rate due to bleeding into the central nervous system. Prompt diagnosis of the condition and treatment is critical.
The thrombocytopenia lasts on average 3 - 4 weeks postnatal until the maternal antibodies have cleared the newborn's system.