Effect of erythromycin on feeding intolerance in very low birth weight infants: a preliminary observation

Zhonghua Min Guo Xiao Er Ke Yi Xue Hui Za Zhi. 1998 Sep-Oct;39(5):324-6.


To investigate the effect of erythromycin on feeding intolerance in very low birth weight infants, from February 1997 to December 1997 twenty infants weighing less than 1500 g, with prolonged intolerance of enteral feeding, were enrolled in this study. The protocol for erythromycin treatment was: a loading dose of 30 mg/kg/day, divided into three portions given every eight hours intravenously for 1 hour over a three day period; then a maintenance dose of 3-5 mg/kg intravenously for one hour once a day was given until full feeding was well established. The assessment of erythromycin effect was the daily net orogastric balance (volume of orogastric tube feeding minus volume of orogastric aspirates). The mean gestational age was 27.1 +/- 2.0 weeks (mean +/- SD) and the mean birth weight was 1025 +/- 196 g. The mean age when erythromycin started was 19.5 +/- 14 days; the mean days after the initiation of erythromycin when orogastric tube feeding could be started and full feeding established were 2.4 +/- 1.1 days and 15.1 +/- 2.2 days, respectively. At the beginning of erythromycin treatment, the net balance of tube aspirates was -4.8 +/- 4.1 ml. The net balance rose significantly to 30.6 +/- 15.3 ml, 92.6 +/- 25.4 ml and 125.3 +/- 18.1 ml at 7, 14 and 21 days after erythromycin treatment, respectively. In conclusion, erythromycin treatment is a safe method to improve intolerance of enteral feeding in very low birth weight infants. It is suggested that the effect of erythromycin on gastrointestinal motility in these infants should be further investigated in the context of a randomized, controlled trial before widespread clinical implementation of this treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Enteral Nutrition*
  • Erythromycin / administration & dosage
  • Erythromycin / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Erythromycin