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Arch Pediatr. 1995 Nov;2(11):1041-6.

[Use of EMLA cream in premature and full-term newborn infants. Study of efficacy and tolerance].

[Article in French]

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Service de néonatalogie, hôpital René-Dubos, Pontoise, France.



Mild methemoglobinemia is a known side-effect of one of the constituents of EMLA cream, this topical local anesthetic is used with great caution in neonates.


One hundred and sixteen neonates admitted from January to July 1994 in an intensive care unit were included in the study. All required skin punctures which were performed 1 h 30-2 hours after EMLA had been applied on the skin. A reaction score (0 to 5) to skin puncture was established 157 times (120 after and 37 without local anesthesia); methemoglobin (Met Hb) concentrations were measured in 47 blood samples, 18-24 hours (40.4% of samples) or 2-3 days (36.2%) after application of EMLA.


Ninety-four neonates were quiet before puncture (score 0-1). Among them, 57% of those who were given EMLA had a low score (2 or less) vs 18% without EMLA. A low reaction was observed in 65% when the dressings had been kept in place for at least 90 minutes vs 15% with a shorter application. A lower reaction was noted in 78.8% of cases after venopuncture (41% after arterial puncture). No Met Hb level was above 5% and 7 (15%), in five neonates, were between 3 and 5%. There was no clear relationship between methemoglobinemia and gestational age or duration of dressing.


EMLA cream is effective and safe in neonates including preterms, when it is applied in a small amount once a day.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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