Evaluation and treatment of hypotension in the preterm infant

Clin Perinatol. 2009 Mar;36(1):75-85. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2008.09.003.


A large proportion of very preterm infants receive treatment for hypotension. The definition of hypotension is unclear, and, currently, there is no evidence that treating it improves outcomes or, indeed, which treatment to choose among the available alternatives. Assessment of circulatory adequacy of the preterm infant requires a careful clinical assessment and may also require ancillary investigations. The most commonly used interventions, fluid boluses and dopamine, are problematic: fluid boluses are statistically associated with worse clinical outcomes and may not even increase blood pressure, whereas dopamine increases blood pressure mostly by causing vasoconstriction and may decrease perfusion. For neither intervention is there any reliable data showing clinical benefit. Prospective trials of intervention for hypotension and circulatory compromise are urgently required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / therapy*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy*
  • Shock / therapy*


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Glucocorticoids