Objective: To investigate pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of rectally administered acetaminophen (INN, paracetamol) in term neonates directly after birth.
Methods: In this prospective clinical trial, term neonates wtih painful conditions or who were undergoing painful procedures received multiple-dose acetaminophen. Serum concentrations were determined serially with an HPLC method, and pharmacokinetic analysis was performed. Pain assessment was performed by means of a validated pain score.
Results: Ten consecutive term neonates received four rectal doses of acetaminophen, 20 mg/kg body weight, every 6 hours. Mean peak serum concentrations (+/-SD) during multiple-dose administration were 10.79 +/- 6.39 mg/L, 15.34 +/- 5.21 mg/L, and 6.24 +/- 3.64 mg/L for the entire group, boys, and girls, respectively. There was a significant difference between the boys and the girls (P = .01). No serum concentrations associated with toxicity (>120 mg/L) were found. Median time to peak serum concentration was 1.5 hours after the first dose and 15 hours for multiple doses. Mean (+/-SD) half-life was 2.7 +/- 1.4 hours in eight patients. There was no correlation between dose and serum concentration or between pain score and serum concentration. There was a significant inverse relationship between the preceding pain score and peak serum concentrations.
Conclusions: In term neonates, multiple rectal doses of acetaminophen, 20 mg/kg body weight, led to widely varying serum concentrations but did not result in therapeutic concentrations in all infants. Boys had higher peak concentrations. Because accumulation was not found, a dose of 30 mg/kg followed by doses of 20 mg/kg at 6- to 8-hour administration intervals are appropriate to reach therapeutic concentrations. A concentration-effect relationship could not be determined.