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The World in Medicine
December 19, 2007

Caffeine for Preemies

JAMA. 2007;298(23):2733. doi:10.1001/jama.298.23.2733-a

Caffeine therapy for apnea due to prematurity improves the survival rate of infants with very low birth weight without adverse effects on their neurodevelopment, according to findings by researchers from Canada, Australia, and England (Schmidt B et al. N Engl J Med. 2007;357[19]:1832-1902).

In the study, premature newborns weighing 500 to 1250 g were randomly assigned to receive caffeine or placebo daily until therapy for apnea of prematurity was no longer needed. About 40% of infants (377 of 937) who received caffeine died or survived with a neurodevelopmental disability compared with 46% of infants (431 of 932) given placebo. Risk of cerebral palsy and cognitive delay were significantly reduced among infants who received caffeine, although both groups had similar rates of mortality, deafness, blindness, and growth.