Medication use in the neonatal intensive care unit

Am J Perinatol. 2014 Oct;31(9):811-21. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1361933. Epub 2013 Dec 17.


Objective: The aim of the article is to provide an update on medication use in infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the United States and examine how use has changed over time.

Study design: We performed a retrospective review (2005-2010) of a large prospectively collected administrative database.

Result: Medications most commonly administered during the study period were ampicillin, gentamicin, caffeine citrate, vancomycin, beractant, furosemide, fentanyl, dopamine, midazolam, and calfactant (56-681 exposures per 1,000 infants). Those with the greatest relative increase in use included azithromycin, sildenafil, and milrinone. Medications with the greatest relative decrease in use included theophylline, metoclopramide, and doxapram.

Conclusion: Medication use in the NICU has changed substantially over time, and only 35% of the most commonly prescribed medications are Food and Drug Administration -approved in infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Drug Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Therapy / trends
  • Drug Utilization*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / trends*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States