Once-daily gentamicin dosing for the preterm and term newborn: proposal for a simple regimen that achieves target levels

J Perinatol. 2003 Dec;23(8):635-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.jp.7210996.


Objective: Based on recent safety and efficacy data, combined with the known pharmacokinetic parameters of aminoglycosides in the newborn, once-daily gentamicin should be preferable to the many other dosing regimens currently in use. Although there are growing data to support its use in term newborns, experience with preterm infants is more limited. In our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, we experienced difficulties regarding complicated dosing regimens, actual dosing errors, and the tendency to check trough and peak levels around the third dose for infants receiving only a 48 hour course. Therefore, we conducted a quality improvement initiative in which we developed and tested a clinical practice guideline for the use of once-daily gentamicin for preterm and term infants that we hoped would yield trough and peak levels in our target range.

Methods: We combined a review of the published English language literature with pharmacokinetic analysis of our own data prior to initiation of this new regimen to design the following dosing regimen: <35 weeks gestation: 3 mg/kg q 24 hours, > or =35 weeks gestation: 4 mg/kg q 24 hours. Our goal serum levels were a trough < or =2 microg/ml and a peak between 6 and 12 microg/ml. We collected and analyzed trough and peak levels from all infants receiving this dosing regimen in the first week of life for at least 72 hours between 3/1/99 and 12/31/00.

Results: In total, 214 babies met our inclusion criteria, 75 of whom were <35 weeks gestation. 100% of babies of all gestational ages had a nontoxic trough level. For infants <35 weeks gestation, 79% had a therapeutic peak level, with a mean value of 6.8 microg/ml. For infants of at least 35 weeks gestation, 93% had a therapeutic peak level, with a mean value of 8.4 microg/ml. 92% of nontherapeutic peaks were too low.

Conclusion: This study of once-daily gentamicin represents the largest sample size of pre-term infants published to date. The proposed regimen is simple and yields a high proportion of desirable levels. We recommend it for use in preterm and term newborns.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / blood
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Gentamicins / administration & dosage*
  • Gentamicins / blood
  • Gentamicins / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins