Use of Methylxanthines in Preterm Neonates

Naveen Bajaj

Apnea of prematurity (AOP) is common, particularly at very early gestational ages. Several episodes of ineffective breathing can lead to hypoxemia and bradycardia, sometimes severe enough to require drug therapy or positive pressure ventilation. For more than 30 years, AOP is being treated using methylxanthines (aminophylline/theophylline and caffeine). In 1973, Kuzemko and Paala described the use of aminophylline to treat apnea attacks in preterm neonates. In 1977, Aranda et al first reported the use of caffeine for the treatment of AOP. Today, they are among the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat neonatal apnea.

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