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Caffeine or theophylline for neonatal apnoea?
  1. J E Scanlon,
  2. K C Chin,
  3. M E Morgan,
  4. G M Durbin,
  5. K A Hale,
  6. S S Brown
  1. Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Birmingham Maternity Hospital.


    Caffeine, in the dose usually recommended (12.5 mg/kg loading dose and 3 mg/kg daily maintenance), and a higher dose regimen (25 mg/kg loading and 6 mg/kg daily maintenance), was compared with theophylline (7.5 mg/kg loading and 3 mg/kg thrice daily maintenance). The study was a randomised controlled trial in the treatment of a group of 44 infants of less than 31 weeks' gestation (mean gestational age 28.3 weeks) who were suffering from frequent apnoeic attacks. All three regimens produced a significant reduction in apnoeic attacks within 24 hours, but only the higher dose caffeine and theophylline groups showed a significant improvement in apnoea within eight hours. The use of caffeine for the treatment of neonatal apnoea is recommended, because a once daily dose is more easily administered, and because it was found that plasma concentrations were more predictable than those of theophylline. If used in very preterm infants, however, its is suggested that a higher dose regimen than that previously recommended be used to achieve a faster response.

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