Drugs in newborn resuscitation: the more we learn the least we use

Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(27):4606-16. doi: 10.2174/092986712803306303.


Temperature control, airway management and support of circulation remain the gold-standards for the majority of neonates requiring resuscitation at birth. For the minority of neonates in which the basic steps of resuscitation fail to reverse an adverse situation, drug administration is justifiable. The 2010 International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) guidelines for newborn resuscitation state: "Drugs are rarely indicated in resuscitation of the newly born infant. Bradycardia in the newborn infant is usually caused by inadequate lung inflation or profound hypoxia, and establishing adequate ventilation is the most important step to correct it. However, if the HR remains less than 60 min-1 despite adequate ventilation and chest compressions, it is reasonable to consider the use of drugs. These are best given via an umbilical venous catheter". Even though drugs have been used in neonatal resuscitation for long, their doses, order and route of administration have been issues of debate among neonatologists, mainly due to the lack of data in human studies. This review will examine existing evidence behind the medications currently used in neonatal resuscitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bradycardia / drug therapy
  • Epinephrine / pharmacology
  • Epinephrine / therapeutic use
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Resuscitation / standards*
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / pharmacology
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / therapeutic use


  • Naloxone
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Epinephrine