Caffeine....not in the coffee or Mt. Dew form.....is a really common part of a premature infant's medication regime in the NICU. Caffeine, you say, really???
Caffeine Citrate is a stimulant that is used to treat apnea of prematurity. If your baby was a preemie, especially, an extremely low birthweight (ELBW) neonate, then he probably was on caffeine therapy for awhile. According to research, it is a safe therapy and it works! We've seen it ourselves in the NICU.
An article was just published this month with some interesting long-term data that was not previously available. The research demonstrates that the effects of caffeine therapy seem to lessen over time......."In previously reported results from the randomized, placebo-controlled Caffeine for Apnea of Prematurity (CAP) trial, newborns who received caffeine therapy had a significantly lower rate of death or disability by 18 to 21 months, driven by lower rates of cerebral palsy and cognitive delay.But by age 5, the difference in death or disability became nonsignificant" (Neale, T., 2012).
The research continues and more long-term data will come from these studies, but for now, we know that caffeine therapy works on our little patients. As stated in the article: "This trial also highlights how fortunate preterm patients have been in the routine use of caffeine, a drug previously untested in newborns. All along, neonatologists were using the first safe neuroprotective agent in this vulnerable population," (Neale, T., 2012).
See the link below to read the full article.
Enjoy your week!
Julie Hudson, MSN, RN
Quotations and Article can be found here:
"Caffeine Benefits for Preemies Mostly Gone by Age 5" By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today