Comparison of oral paracetamol versus ibuprofen in premature infants with patent ductus arteriosus: a randomized controlled trial

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 4;8(11):e77888. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077888. eCollection 2013.


Trial design: Oral ibuprofen has demonstrated good effects on symptomatic patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) but with many contraindications and potential side-effects. In the past two years, oral paracetamol administration to several preterm infants with PDA has been reported. Here, a randomized, non-blinded, parallel-controlled and non-inferiority trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety profiles of oral paracetamol to those of standard ibuprofen for PDA closure in premature infants.

Methods: One hundred and sixty infants (gestational age ≤ 34 weeks) with echocardiographically confirmed PDA were randomly assigned to receive either oral paracetamol (n = 80) or ibuprofen (n = 80). After the initial treatment course in both groups, the need for a second course was determined by echocardiographic evaluation. The main outcome was rate of ductal closure, and secondary outcomes were adverse effects and complications.

Result: The ductus was closed in 65 (81.2%) infants of the paracetamol group compared with 63 (78.8%) of the ibuprofen group. The 95% confidence interval of the difference between these groups was [-0.080,0.128], demonstrating that the effectiveness of paracetamol treatment was not inferior to that of ibuprofen. In fact, the incidence of hyperbilirubinemia or gastrointestinal bleeding in the paracetamol group was significantly lower than that of the ibuprofen group. No significant differences in other clinical side effects or complications were noted.

Conclusion: This comparison of drug efficacy and safety profiles in premature infants with PDA revealed that oral paracetamol was comparable to ibuprofen in terms of the rate of ductal closure and even showed a decreased risk of hyperbilirubinemia or gastrointestinal bleeding. Therefore, paracetamol may be accepted as a first-line drug treatment for PDA in preterm infants.

Trial registration: ChiCTR-TRC-12002177.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / administration & dosage*
  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects
  • Administration, Oral
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / administration & dosage*
  • Ibuprofen / adverse effects
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Oliguria / chemically induced
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen

Associated data

  • ChiCTR/CHICTRTRC12002177

Grant support

The trial “Comparison of Oral Paracetamol versus Ibuprofen in Premature Infants with Patent Ductus Arteriosus: A Randomized Controlled Trial” was funded from Jilin Department of Health (2012Z033). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.