Nucleated Red Blood Cells Are Predictive of In-Hospital Mortality for Pediatric Patients

Addison Gearhart*, Paul Esteso, Francesca Sperotto, Eleni G. Elia, Kenneth A. Michelson, Stu Lipsitz, Mingwei Sun, Christopher Knoll, Christina Vanderpluym

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose We sought to establish whether nucleated red blood cells (NRBCs) are predictive of disposition, morbidity, and mortality for pediatric patients presenting to the emergency department (ED). Methods A single-center retrospective cohort study examining all ED encounters from patients aged younger than 19 years between January 2016 and March 2020, during which a complete blood count was obtained. Univariate analysis and multivariable logistic regression were used to test the presence of NRBCs as an independent predictor of patient-related outcomes. Results The prevalence of NRBCs was 8.9% (4195/46,991 patient encounters). Patient with NRBCs were younger (median age 4.58 vs 8.23 years; P < 0.001). Those with NRBCs had higher rates of in-hospital mortality (30/2465 [1.22%] vs 65/21,741 [0.30%]; P < 0.001), sepsis (19% vs 12%; P < 0.001), shock (7% vs 4%; P < 0.001), and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (0.62% vs 0.09%; P < 0.001). They were more likely to be admitted (59% vs 51%; P < 0.001), have longer median hospital length of stay {1.3 (interquartile range [IQR], 0.22-4.14) vs 0.8 days (IQR, 0.23-2.64); P < 0.001}, and median intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (3.9 [IQR, 1.87-8.72] vs 2.6 days [IQR, 1.27-5.83]; P < 0.001). Multivariable regression revealed presence of NRBCs as an independent predictor for in-hospital mortality (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.38-3.53; P < 0.001), ICU admission (aOR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.11-1.51; P < 0.001), CPR (aOR, 3.83; 95% CI, 2.33-6.30; P < 0.001), and 30-day return to the ED (aOR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.15-1.26; P < 0.001). Conclusions The presence of NRBCs is an independent predictor for mortality, including in-hospital mortality, ICU admission, CPR, and readmission within 30 days for children presenting to the ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-912
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023


  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • nucleated red blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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