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In very low birth weight infants, persistence of a patent ductus arteriosus results in morbidity and mortality. Therapies to close the ductus are effective, but clinical outcomes may depend on the accuracy of diagnosis and the timing of administration. The objective of the present study was to characterise the association between early echocardiography, therapy for patent ductus arteriosus, and outcomes in very low birth weight infants.
This retrospective cohort study used electronic health record data on inborn infants of gestational age ⩽28 weeks and birth weight <1500 g who were discharged after day of life 7 from 362 neonatal ICU from 1997 to 2013. The primary outcome was death between day of life 7 and discharge. Secondary outcomes included bronchopulmonary dysplasia, necrotising enterocolitis, and grade 3 or 4 intraventricular haemorrhage.
This study included a total of 48,551 infants with a median gestational age of 27 weeks (interquartile range 25, 28) and birth weight 870 g (706, 1050). Early echocardiography – that is, performed during days of life 2 to 6 – was performed in 15,971/48,551 (33%) infants, and patent ductus arteriosus was diagnosed in 31,712/48,551 (65%). The diagnosis was more common in infants who had undergone early echocardiography (14,549/15,971 [91%] versus 17,163/32,580 [53%], p<0.001). In multivariable analysis, early echocardiography was not associated with reduced mortality (odds ratio 0.97, 95% CI 0.89–1.05). Results were similar in the subset of infants who received therapy for patent ductus arteriosus (odds ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.90–1.15).
Early echocardiography was associated with an increased diagnosis of patent ductus arteriosus, but not with decreased mortality.
Systemic hypertension is increasingly recognised in premature infants. There is limited evidence regarding treatment, and most published treatment recommendations are based solely on expert opinions.
We identified all infants born ⩽32 weeks of gestation and ⩽1500 g birth weight discharged from one of 348 neonatal ICUs managed by the Pediatrix Medical Group between 1997 and 2013. We defined antihypertensive drugs as vasodilators, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, β receptor blockers, calcium channel blockers, and central α2 receptor agonists. We compared characteristics between infants who were treated with at least one antihypertensive drug during their initial hospitalisation and infants who were not prescribed antihypertensive drugs using Wilcoxon’s ranked sum test or Pearson’s χ2-test.
We identified 2504/119,360 (2.1%) infants who required at least one antihypertensive drug. The median postnatal age of first exposure was 48 days (25th, 75th percentile 15, 86), and the median length of therapy was 6 days (1, 16). Hydralazine was the most commonly prescribed antihypertensive with 1280/2504 (51.1%) treated infants exposed to the drug. More than two antihypertensive drugs were administered in 582/2504 (23.2%) infants, and 199/2097 (9.5%) of the treated infants were discharged home on antihypertensive therapy. Infants who received antihypertensive drugs were of lower gestational age (p<0.001) and birth weight (p<0.001) compared with infants not prescribed antihypertensive drugs.
Our study is the largest to describe current antihypertensive drug exposure in a cohort of exclusively premature infants born ⩽32 weeks of gestation. We found wide variations in practice for treating hypertension in premature infants.