Efficacy and safety of methylxanthines in Very Low Birth Weight Infants [ 2000 - 2002 ]

Also known as: Caffeine and Prematurity

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Peter Davis (Principal investigator)

Brief description With improving technologies and medications the numbers of very premature babies surviving to leave hospital has increased over the last two decades. However these babies are at increased risk of having brain damage in the form of mental retardation and cerebral palsy. These problems impose a major burden on the individuals, their families and society at large. This study attempts to identify whether or not a commonly used drug is safe in these babies or whether it contributes to brain damage in some cases. Many premature babies have difficulty breathing by themselves because their brain does not send regular messages to their lungs telling them to expand. A class of drugs which includes caffeine has been shown to stimulate breathing in babies and has been thought to reduce the amount of support these babies require from a ventilator in the first weeks of life. The safety of these drugs has not been adequately demonstrated in premature babies and there is some evidence from animal studies that they may disrupt the developing brain. Results in human babies are inconclusive and concerns remain regarding the long term effects of caffeine. The question of whether caffeine usage increases the risk of mental retardation or cerebral palsy is a very important one given the almost universal usage of this or similar drugs in premature babies. We will find out whether babies given caffeine as newborns perform as well at 18 months of age as babies not given the drug.

Funding Amount $AUD 221,136.39

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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