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Findings suggest optimal dose
Date:6/2/2010

DALLAS June 4, 2010 A national study involving a UT Southwestern Medical Center neonatologist provides new insight into how much oxygen preterm infants should receive as well as the optimal way to deliver it to them.

Researchers at UT Southwestern and 19 other academic medical centers found that the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which blows air through an infant's nostrils to gently inflate the lungs, might be a better option for preterm infants than the more conventional ventilator and surfactant therapy. CPAP machines are routinely used by adults with sleep apnea to aid breathing.

"Our findings show that the patients who received the CPAP treatment required intubation less often both in the delivery room and neonatal intensive care unit. They also spent less time on ventilators and received fewer steroid drugs after birth," said Dr. Pablo Sanchez, professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and an author of the study available online and in the New England Journal of Medicine. "This tells us that CPAP may be a viable alternative to routine intubation and surfactant administration in babies born prematurely."

Because their lungs are not fully developed, preterm infants run the risk of developing respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). The lungs of infants with RDS fail to produce enough surfactant, a substance that allows the inner surface of the lungs to expand when the infant moves from the womb to breathing air. Although many preterm babies who are unable to produce surfactant must be put on a ventilator to breathe, the use of artificial surfactant has been shown to reduce the amount of time an infant requires a breathing machine.

The standard ventilator therapy involves placing a breathing tube in an infant's windpipe to provide both oxygen and surfactant. Surfactant can not be delivered with CPAP.

For the study, the researchers members of the Neonatal Research Network randomly ass
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Contact: Kristen Holland Shear
Kristen.hollandshear@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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