Coagulation studies were performed on 48 preterm infants with respiratory distress or recurrent apnoea who were considered to be at risk from intracranial haemorrhage. One or more coagulation abnormalities were detected in 16 cases though only one infant had a bleeding diathesis in life. Coagulation abnormalities were more frequent in infants subsequently found to have intracranial haemorrhage (intraventricular or subarachnoid haemorrhage) than in those with hyaline membrane disease only.
Of 26 infants who died, 6 had hyaline membrane disease only, 17 had intracranial haemorrhage (usually intraventricular haemorrhage) with or without hyaline membrane disease, and 3 had other conditions. Fibrin thrombi were seen at necropsy in the tissues of 11 of the 12 infants with laboratory abnormalities who died and in 6 additional cases.
Since half the infants who died and two-thirds of the total cases had no evidence of haemostatic failure, it is concluded that abnormal haemostasis is not a constant feature of either hyaline membrane disease or intraventricular haemorrhage.