News / Health

Caffeine Safely Stimulates Premature Infants

Study confirms value of treatment to stimulate breathing

A new study confirms the effectiveness of caffeine treatment for premature babies with breathing issues and underscores the lack of side effects.
A new study confirms the effectiveness of caffeine treatment for premature babies with breathing issues and underscores the lack of side effects.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

Caffeine is a safe and effective treatment for premature babies with breathing problems, a new study confirms.

Almost all babies who are born very prematurely have trouble breathing. For decades, doctors have treated them with the stimulant caffeine, even though there was little scientific evidence to justify it.

Breathing delivers oxygen to the brain, so when an infant's breathing is disrupted, it can have a critical impact on the child's development.



In an earlier stage of this study, some 2,000 premature babies in nine countries were randomly assigned to get caffeine or a placebo. At 18 months, researchers found numerous advantages for the caffeine group. Those babies had half as many cases of cerebral palsy as well as lower rates of blindness, deafness and delayed mental functioning.

Now, University of Pennsylvania researchers report on an additional three and a half years of follow-up, mainly to look for possible safety issues, which might take time to develop.

Lead researcher Barbara Schmidt says the new study confirms the effectiveness of the caffeine treatment, and underscores its lack of side effects.

"Not only is it safe, it is more effective than any other drugs we give to babies in the nursery when they are very preterm," Schmidt says.

There were some changes in the results between the two groups of children at age 18 months and then at five years, notably that the advantage children treated with caffeine had in mental development seemed to have evaporated.

"There is some residual benefit [to] the quality of the children's motor function - if they had impaired motor function - but there is no longer any effect whatsoever on the rates of cognitive impairment," she says.

Schmidt's research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows rates of cognitive impairment at five years were much lower than at 18 months - what she calls a potential for "remarkable catch-up" in the very premature babies as they get older, whether they get caffeine therapy or not.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid