Platelets were first described in the mid-nineteenth century. Since then, their roles were identified in hemostasis and thrombosis, inflammation, leukocyte interactions, angiogenesis, and cancer growth. But there is little information about such platelet functions in the newborn. Several studies highlighted some platelet differences between newborns and adults. Yet, in spite of these differences, healthy newborns appear to be adequately protected. A number of factors, however, were reported to negatively affect neonatal platelets. These include maternal hypertensive disorders or infections, neonatal asphyxia or respiratory distress, therapies such as ampicillin or indomethacin, and treatment modalities such as ventilators, nitric oxide, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Their effects on newborn platelets are usually transitory, lasting from several hours to a few days or weeks. If these effects are well characterized, they could serve as reporters for diagnosis and monitoring during therapy. Careful studies of neonatal platelets are needed to improve the understanding of basic physiology and pathophysiology in this cohort and to identify possible targets for intervention and therapy.
Part of the book: Neonatal Medicine