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Pediatrics. 2006 Jun;117(6):1979-87.

Reported medication use in the neonatal intensive care unit: data from a large national data set.

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  • 1Pediatrix-Obstetrix Center for Research and Education, Sunrise, Florida, USA.



The objectives were (1) to identify the drugs reported most commonly during NICU care, (2) to examine how different methods of documenting drug use could influence prioritization of drugs for future research aimed at evaluating safety and efficacy, (3) to describe the demographic differences in the population samples for some specific medications, (4) to identify which reported medications are used for patient populations with >20% mortality rates, and (5) to examine how reports of drug use change over time.


A retrospective review of a large national data set was performed.


The 10 medications reported most commonly for the NICU were ampicillin, gentamicin, ferrous sulfate, multivitamins, cefotaxime, caffeine citrate, furosemide, vancomycin, surfactant, and metoclopramide. Medications used for patient populations with >20% mortality rates included amphotericin, clonazepam, dobutamine, epinephrine, ethacrynic acid, insulin, lidocaine, metolazone, milrinone, inhaled nitric oxide, nitroglycerin, octreotide, pancuronium, phenytoin, sodium nitroprusside, sodium polystyrene sulfonate (Kayexalate), tris-hydroxymethylaminomethane acetate buffer, and tolazoline. Several of these drugs (eg, amphotericin B and bumetanide) were used primarily for extremely premature neonates, and this usage might explain the high mortality rates for the population of neonates treated with these medications. Other medications (clonazepam, milrinone, inhaled nitric oxide, and phenytoin) were used primarily for near-term and term infants. The explanation for the high mortality rates for these neonates is less clear and may be related primarily to the severity of illness for which the medications are used. Utilization rates for several different medications (eg, cisapride, metoclopramide, and dexamethasone) changed by >50% during the past 5 years.


Data reported here are the first from a large national data set on the use of different medications for neonates admitted for intensive care and should be helpful in establishing priority agendas for future drug studies in this population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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