Caffeine for the management of apnea in preterm infants

Int Health. 2009 Dec;1(2):190-5. doi: 10.1016/j.inhe.2009.09.005.


Considerable uncertainty persists regarding the efficacy and safety of methylxanthines (caffeine, theophylline - in intravenous form named aminophylline) for the prevention and treatment of infant apnea. To help inform national guideline development in Kenya we undertook structured literature searches to identify current evidence on caffeine therapy for infant apnea. Available evidence shows that caffeine is as effective as intravenous theophylline (aminophylline), but is safer and easier to give and has better therapeutic properties. It is therefore recommended for the treatment of apnea of prematurity. Caffeine is also the preferred drug if clinicians plan to provide apnea prophylaxis. As prematurity is likely to result in more than 1 million deaths a year, mostly in resource-poor settings, greater efforts need to be made to ensure interventions such as caffeine, currently unavailable in countries such as Kenya, are made more widely available.