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Early Nitric Oxide Treatment Can Help Low Birth Weight Preemies

ng the study led by Kinsella, nearly 800 babies were given either low-dose inhaled nitric oxide or a placebo within the first 48 hours of life, continuing over a period of 21 days or until the infants no longer needed breathing assistance. The treatment did not lower the overall incidence of BPD at 36 weeks of life but cut in half the risk for the condition among babies who weighed about 2 1/2 pounds at birth, or 1,000 to 1,250 grams. In addition, significantly fewer babies treated with inhaled nitric oxide developed brain damage, as indicated by head ultrasound.

Treated infants who weighed about 2 pounds at birth, or between 750 and 1,000 grams, had half the risk of brain damage compared to babies of similar size who did not receive treatment. Follow-up for these infants (continuing until 4 1/2 years of age) will help clarify the long term effects of this promising therapy on development.

The other study was led by Roberta A. Ballard, MD, a neonatologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, and involved 582 premature, low birth weight babies at very high risk of developing BPD.

The infants in the Philadelphia-led study were randomly selected to receive inhaled nitric oxide treatment or a placebo seven to 21 days after birth. Overall, more of the treated babies survived without BPD at 36 weeks than the untreated babies (44 percent versus 37 percent). Even more encouraging, infants treated between seven and 14 days after birth had twice the rate of survival without BPD compared to untreated babies.

(Source: Nwswise)
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