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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs