Saturday, January 21, 2012

Preemies & Caffeine

Two years ago, when Roxy was in the NICU, I was shocked when I arrived one day to learn that she was being given caffeine through her PICC line.  

I think the nurse understood my confusion as she immediately began explaining what caffeine can do for small babies.  For Roxy, it was being used to stop her from having so many apnea episodes.  She would forget to breathe at times.  Caffeine significantly reduced the number of apnea spells Roxy had.  

Caffeine was the least of my worries when thinking about long-term effects Roxy would suffer from both her prematurity and the treatment she received as a preemie.  I was worrying about a resistance to the antibiotics she had for her staph infection, the amount of oxygen she was given increasing the chance of retinopathy of prematurity, etc.  

You may have already read this article regarding caffeine use in preemies that has been circulating this week.  If not, you can find it here.  Some of the most interesting facts to me are:
  • The dosage preemies were first given equaled 4 to 6 cups of coffee a day.  
  • Preemies being treated with caffeine spent less time on a ventilator.  The rate of preemies with chronic lung disease and serious eye conditions was significantly lower in the group of preemies being treated with caffeine.  
  • There were fewer cases of cerebral palsy and other motor deficiencies in caffeine-treated preemies at the age of 18 months.
  • At the age of 5, children treated with caffeine and those not, scored about the same on intelligence tests.  

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