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Clin J Pain. 2009 Jun;25(5):418-22. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31819b7a3b.

Safety of morphine in nonintubated infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.

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Pharmacy Practice Division, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.



To determine the safety of morphine for procedural pain management in nonintubated infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.


Retrospective cohort study comparing nonintubated infants undergoing central line placement who received morphine during the procedure with a sex and age-matched group who did not receive morphine. The incidence of clinically significant respiratory depression and hypotension, defined as requiring intervention (ie, bag/mask ventilation, increased ventilatory support, and naloxone reversal for respiratory depression and saline volume expansion and inotropes for hypotension), were compared between groups using chi test.


There were no differences (P>0.05) between morphine (N=43) and no morphine (N=43) groups in gestational age [34.2 (4.6) vs. 34.6 (3.8) wk; P=0.63], postnatal age [13.7 (22.6) vs. 12.3 (15) wk; P=0.73], and weight [2.3 kg (0.9) for both groups]. Five (11.6%) morphine-treated infants experienced respiratory depression compared with none (0%) in the no morphine group (P=0.02); removal of 2 overdosed infants in the morphine group reduced the incidence to 7.3%, which was not significantly different from 0% in the no morphine group (P=0.07). There were no cases of hypotension.


Morphine administration was associated with respiratory depression but not hypotension when administered to nonintubated infants undergoing central line placement. Morphine should be used with caution in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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