Medication utilization in children born preterm in the first two years of life

J Perinatol. 2021 Jul;41(7):1732-1738. doi: 10.1038/s41372-021-00930-0. Epub 2021 Feb 5.


Objective: To compare medications dispensed during the first 2 years in children born preterm and full-term.

Study design: Retrospective analysis of claims data from a commercial national managed care plan 2008-2019. 329,855 beneficiaries were enrolled from birth through 2 years, of which 25,408 (7.7%) were preterm (<37 weeks). Filled prescription claims and paid amount over 2 years were identified.

Results: In preterm children, the number of filled prescriptions was 1.4 times and cost was 3.8 times that of full-term children. Number and cost of medications were inversely related to gestational age. Differences peak at 4-9 months and resolve by 19 months after discharge. Palivizumab, ranitidine, albuterol, lansoprazole, budesonide, and prednisolone had the greatest differences in utilization.

Conclusion: Prescription medication utilization among preterm children under 2 years is driven by palivizumab, anti-reflux, and respiratory medications, despite little evidence regarding efficacy for many medications and concern for harm with certain classes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Retrospective Studies*