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February 16, 1976

Medical News

JAMA. 1976;235(7):693-699. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260330005002

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Two methylxanthines seem to help premature babies overcome apnea  Two related compounds, caffeine and theophylline, appear to have some effect in preventing apnea in premature infants, according to a group of investigators from Montreal General Hospital and Montreal Children's Hospital.Both drugs reduce the incidence of apneic episodes in the newborn babies, Jacob V. Aranda, MD, PhD, reported to the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation meeting in Quebec."We have no data to compare the relative efficacy of theophylline and caffeine," Dr Aranda explained during a press conference. "They both work, they are related compounds—methylxanthines—and their mechanisms are probably similar."Caffeine is thought to have a more powerful central nervous system effect and is believed to have fewer peripheral effects than theophylline, so its use would presumably obviate such side effects of theophylline as diuresis and changes in the heart rate."But Dr Aranda, assistant professor of pediatrics at