Background: There are few effective and safe medications to treat very low birth weight (VLBW) infants with evolving BPD. Bronchodilators are often given to patients who have clinical signs of reactive airway disease, but there is not enough information regarding their effectiveness within this population.
Objective: To quantify the pulmonary function response to bronchodilator therapy in a population of VLBW infants with evolving BPD.
Design/methods: This is a retrospective analysis of an ongoing large database of pulmonary function tests (PFTs) in premature infants. We reviewed pre and post bronchodilator PFTs ordered by a physician due to concern for reactive airway disease. Inclusion criteria: BW< 1500 grams; > 14 days of age; admission diagnosis of respiratory distress syndrome; requiring ongoing oxygen, CPAP or ventilator support at the time of PFT. PFTs were done prior to albuterol therapy and repeated 30 minutes after the therapy was given. PFTs included the measurement of passive respiratory mechanics with the single breath occlusion technique, including passive respiratory compliance (Crs), resistance (Rrs) and tidal volume (Vt).
Results: 40 VLBW infants (mean gestation of 27.4 weeks; mean birth weight (BW) of 848 grams) were identified as having PFTs. 29 of these patients had a BW of ≤ 1000 grams. Patients were studied at a mean corrected gestational age of 34.9 weeks. 29 of 40 were extubated at the time of the PFT. Of these patients, 21 (52.5%) had a decrease in Rrs of ≥10%. From the other 19 patients, 5 (12.5%) had a decrease of 0 to < 10% in Rrs, 14 (35%) showed no response to therapy. There was no significant difference in Crs between groups.