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Biol Neonate. 2004;86(4):275-9. Epub 2004 Aug 5.

N-acetylcysteine administration during the first week of life does not improve lung function in extremely low birth weight infants.

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Department of Pediatrics, The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


Oxygen toxicity is thought to be an important factor involved in development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in the very preterm infant. Glutathione (GSH) plays a major role in the antioxidant defense system in the preterm lung and there are theoretical implications that N-acetylcysteine (NAC) treatment could improve its function. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether NAC treatment during the first week of life to preterm infants improved neonatal lung function as a measure of lung injury. The study was part of a multi-center Nordic controlled trial with prophylactic intravenous NAC treatment (16-32 mg/kg/day) for 6 days in newborn infants with birth weights 500-999 g. Lung mechanics, with calculations of compliance and resistance of the respiratory system, together with measurements of functional residual capacity and indices of gas mixing efficiency in the lung, were performed in 33 preterm infants (18 received NAC and 15 placebo) before discharge from the NICU. Median (range) gestational age was 25 (24-28) weeks in the NAC-treated infants and 25 (24-29) in the placebo group. Corresponding mean (SD) birth weights were 0.774 (0.11) and 0.761 (0.12) kg respectively. Lung function measurements did not show any significant differences between NAC-treated infants compared to placebo when examined before discharge from the NICU. We conclude that prophylactic NAC treatment to extremely low birth weight infants during the first week of life does not improve lung function at term.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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