Normal newborns have reduced levels of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA). Stressed newborns have an increased prevalence of thrombotic diseases. An impaired release of tPA and/or increased plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI) is associated with thrombotic risk in the adult patient. The purpose of this study was to assay the plasma levels of tPA, PAI, histidine-rich glycoprotein (HRG), and other fibrinolytic proteins in 15 severely stressed newborns. The stressed babies showed significantly higher (p < .001) levels of tPA antigen compared with normal newborns. Also, PAI activity and PAI-1 antigen levels were increased. Levels of both HRG and plasminogen were higher in the stressed group but the ratio of HRG to plasminogen was the same as that in the normal control newborns (1:3), suggesting an insignificant effect of HRG.d-dimers were significantly elevated in the stressed newborns. However, 8 patients died and 4 of these were found to have massive thrombotic disease on autopsy. These results show that the newborn when stressed will increase tPA levels and activate the lytic system. However, the activity is suboptimal inasmuch as PAI activity did not decrease and thrombotic disease was observed.

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