Erythromycin treatment for gastrointestinal dysmotility in preterm infants

J Paediatr Child Health. 1997 Apr;33(2):148-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.1997.tb01018.x.


Objective: To report our clinical experience on the use of oral erythromycin for the treatment of severe gastrointestinal dysmotility in preterm infants.

Methodology: A case series study of seven preterm infants (six were very low birthweight) with severe intestinal dysmotility in a tertiary neonatal centre.

Results: All responded favourably without adverse effects and tolerated full enteral feeding within 1-2 weeks of the commencement of the drug.

Conclusions: As prolonged total parenteral nutrition carries significant risk of complications, this therapy could be considered in selected preterm infants who fail to establish enteral feeding after an extended period, and in whom an anatomically obstructive lesion of the gastrointestinal tract has been excluded. Meanwhile, we would caution against the widespread implementation of this therapeutic approach until formal evaluation by randomized controlled trials have established the exact role of erythromycin, or its analogues, in the treatment of intestinal dysmotility in preterm infants.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Erythromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Parenteral Nutrition, Total / adverse effects
  • Time Factors


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Erythromycin