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1.  Use of Antihypotensive Therapies in Extremely Preterm Infants 
Pediatrics  2013;131(6):e1865-e1873.
To investigate the relationships among blood pressure (BP) values, antihypotensive therapies, and in-hospital outcomes to identify a BP threshold below which antihypotensive therapies may be beneficial.
Prospective observational study of infants 230/7 to 266/7 weeks’ gestational age. Hourly BP values and antihypotensive therapy use in the first 24 hours were recorded. Low BP was investigated by using 15 definitions. Outcomes were examined by using regression analysis controlling for gestational age, the number of low BP values, and illness severity.
Of 367 infants enrolled, 203 (55%) received at least 1 antihypotensive therapy. Treated infants were more likely to have low BP by any definition (P < .001), but for the 15 definitions of low BP investigated, therapy was not prescribed to 3% to 49% of infants with low BP and, paradoxically, was administered to 28% to 41% of infants without low BP. Treated infants were more likely than untreated infants to develop severe retinopathy of prematurity (15% vs 8%, P = .03) or severe intraventricular hemorrhage (22% vs 11%, P < .01) and less likely to survive (67% vs 78%, P = .02). However, with regression analysis, there were no significant differences between groups in survival or in-hospital morbidity rates.
Factors other than BP contributed to the decision to use antihypotensive therapies. Infant outcomes were not improved with antihypotensive therapy for any of the 15 definitions of low BP investigated.
PMCID: PMC3666108  PMID: 23650301
extremely preterm infant; antihypotensive therapy; blood pressure; hypotension
2.  The investment case for preventing NICU-associated infections 
American journal of perinatology  2012;30(3):179-184.
Nosocomial (hospital-associated or NICU-associated) infections occur in as many as 10–36% of very low birth weight infants cared for in newborn intensive care units (NICU).
To determine the potentially avoidable, incremental costs of care associated with NICU-associated bloodstream infections.
Study Design
This is a retrospective study that included all NICU admissions of infants 401–1500 grams birth weight in the greater Cincinnati region from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007. Non-physician costs of care were compared between infants who developed at least one bacterial bloodstream infection prior to NICU discharge or death and infants who did not. Costs were adjusted for clinical and demographic characteristics that are present in the first three days of life and are known associates of infection.
Among 900 study infants with no congenital anomaly and no major surgery, 82 (9.1%) developed at least one bacterial bloodstream infection. On average, the cost of NICU care was $16,800 greater per infant who experienced NICU-associated bloodstream infection.
Potentially avoidable costs of care associated with bloodstream infection can be used to justify investments in the reliable implementation of evidence-based interventions designed to prevent these infections.
PMCID: PMC3789586  PMID: 22836823
quality improvement; investment case; nosocomial infection
3.  Pharmacokinetics of Levetiracetam in Neonates with Seizures 
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;159(1):152-154.e3.
The pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam were determined prospectively in 18 neonates with seizures. Neonates were found to have lower clearance, higher volume of distribution, and a longer half-life as compared with older children and adults. Mild somnolence was the only adverse effect.
PMCID: PMC3789844  PMID: 21592494
4.  Emperic Antifungal Therapy and Outcomes in Extremely-Low-Birth-Weight Infants with Invasive Candidiasis 
The Journal of Pediatrics  2012;161(2):264-269.e2.
To assess the impact of emperic antifungal therapy of invasive candidiasis on subsequent outcomes in premature infants.
Study design
This was a cohort study of infants ≤1000 g birth weight cared for at Neonatal Research Network sites. All infants had at least 1 positive culture for Candida. Emperic antifungal therapy was defined as receipt of a systemic antifungal on the day of or the day before the first positive culture for Candida was drawn. We created Cox proportional hazards and logistic regression models stratified on propensity score quartiles to determine the effect of emperic antifungal therapy on survival, time to clearance of infection, retinopathy of prematurity, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, end-organ damage, and neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI).
136 infants developed invasive candidiasis. The incidence of death or NDI was lower for infants who received emperic antifungal therapy (19/38, 50%) compared with those who had not (55/86, 64%; odds ratio=0.27 [95% confidence interval 0.08–0.86]). There was no significant difference between the groups for any single outcome or other combined outcomes.
Emperic antifungal therapy was associated with increased survival without NDI. A prospective randomized trial of this strategy is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3380169  PMID: 22424952
Candida; neonate; mortality; neurodevelopmental impairment
5.  Early microbial and metabolomic signatures predict later onset of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants 
Microbiome  2013;1:13.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating intestinal disease that afflicts 10% of extremely preterm infants. The contribution of early intestinal colonization to NEC onset is not understood, and predictive biomarkers to guide prevention are lacking. We analyzed banked stool and urine samples collected prior to disease onset from infants <29 weeks gestational age, including 11 infants who developed NEC and 21 matched controls who survived free of NEC. Stool bacterial communities were profiled by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Urinary metabolomic profiles were assessed by NMR.
During postnatal days 4 to 9, samples from infants who later developed NEC tended towards lower alpha diversity (Chao1 index, P = 0.086) and lacked Propionibacterium (P = 0.009) compared to controls. Furthermore, NEC was preceded by distinct forms of dysbiosis. During days 4 to 9, samples from four NEC cases were dominated by members of the Firmicutes (median relative abundance >99% versus <17% in the remaining NEC and controls, P < 0.001). During postnatal days 10 to 16, samples from the remaining NEC cases were dominated by Proteobacteria, specifically Enterobacteriaceae (median relative abundance >99% versus 38% in the other NEC cases and 84% in controls, P = 0.01). NEC preceded by Firmicutes dysbiosis occurred earlier (onset, days 7 to 21) than NEC preceded by Proteobacteria dysbiosis (onset, days 19 to 39). All NEC cases lacked Propionibacterium and were preceded by either Firmicutes (≥98% relative abundance, days 4 to 9) or Proteobacteria (≥90% relative abundance, days 10 to 16) dysbiosis, while only 25% of controls had this phenotype (predictive value 88%, P = 0.001). Analysis of days 4 to 9 urine samples found no metabolites associated with all NEC cases, but alanine was positively associated with NEC cases that were preceded by Firmicutes dysbiosis (P < 0.001) and histidine was inversely associated with NEC cases preceded by Proteobacteria dysbiosis (P = 0.013). A high urinary alanine:histidine ratio was associated with microbial characteristics (P < 0.001) and provided good prediction of overall NEC (predictive value 78%, P = 0.007).
Early dysbiosis is strongly involved in the pathobiology of NEC. These striking findings require validation in larger studies but indicate that early microbial and metabolomic signatures may provide highly predictive biomarkers of NEC.
PMCID: PMC3971624  PMID: 24450576
Microbiome; Premature infants; Necrotizing enterocolitis; Dysbiosis
6.  Enrollment of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants in a Clinical Research Study May Not Be Representative 
Pediatrics  2012;129(3):480-484.
The Surfactant Positive Airway Pressure and Pulse Oximetry Randomized Trial (SUPPORT) antenatal consent study demonstrated that mothers of infants enrolled in the SUPPORT trial had significantly different demographics and exposure to antenatal steroids compared with mothers of eligible, but not enrolled infants. The objective of this analysis was to compare the outcomes of bronchopulmonary dysplasia, severe retinopathy of prematurity, severe intraventricular hemorrhage or periventricular leukomalacia (IVH/PVL), death, and death/severe IVH/PVL for infants enrolled in SUPPORT in comparison with eligible, but not enrolled infants.
Perinatal characteristics and neonatal outcomes were compared for enrolled and eligible but not enrolled infants in bivariate analyses. Models were created to test the effect of enrollment in SUPPORT on outcomes, controlling for perinatal characteristics.
There were 1316 infants enrolled in SUPPORT; 3053 infants were eligible, but not enrolled. In unadjusted analyses, enrolled infants had significantly lower rates of death before discharge, severe IVH/PVL, death/severe IVH/PVL (all < 0.001), and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (P = .003) in comparison with eligible, but not enrolled infants. The rate of severe retinopathy of prematurity was not significantly different. After adjustment for perinatal factors, enrollment in the trial was not a significant predictor of any of the tested clinical outcomes.
The results of this analysis demonstrate significant outcome differences between enrolled and eligible but not enrolled infants in a trial using antenatal consent, which were likely due to enrollment bias resulting from the antenatal consent process. Additional research and regulatory review need to be conducted to ensure that large moderate-risk trials that require antenatal consent can be conducted in such a way as to ensure the generalizability of results.
PMCID: PMC3289530  PMID: 22371462
antenatal steroids; clinical research/trials; informed consent; neonatal
7.  Association of antenatal corticosteroids with mortality and neurodevelopmental outcomes among infants born at 22–25 weeks gestation 
Current guidelines, initially published in 1995, recommend antenatal corticosteroids for mothers with preterm labor from 24–34 weeks gestational age, but not before 24 weeks because of lack of data. However, many infants born before 24 weeks are provided intensive care now.
To determine if antenatal corticosteroids are associated with improvement in major outcomes in infants born at 22 and 23 weeks.
Design, Setting, Participants
Data for this cohort study were collected prospectively on 401–1000 gram inborn infants (N=10,541) of 22–25 weeks gestation born between 1993–2009 at 23 academic perinatal centers in the United States. Certified examiners unaware of exposure to antenatal corticosteroids performed follow-up examinations on 4,924 (86.5%) of the infants born in 1993–2008 who survived to 18–22 months. Logistic regression models generated adjusted odds ratios, controlling for maternal and neonatal variables.
Main Outcome Measures
Mortality and neurodevelopmental impairment at 18–22 months corrected age
Death or neurodevelopmental impairment at 18–22 months was lower for infants whose mothers received antenatal corticosteroids born at 23 weeks (antenatal corticosteroids, 83.4% vs no antenatal corticosteroids, 90.5%; adjusted odds ratio 0.58; 95% CI, 0.42–0.80), at 24 weeks (antenatal corticosteroids, 68.4% vs no antenatal corticosteroids, 80.3%; adjusted odds ratio 0.62; 95% CI, 0.49–0.78), and at 25 weeks (antenatal corticosteroids, 52.7% vs no antenatal corticosteroids, 67.9%; adjusted odds ratio 0.61; 95% CI, 0.50–0.74) but not at 22 weeks (antenatal corticosteroids, 90.2% vs no antenatal corticosteroids, 93.1%; adjusted odds ratio 0.80; 95% CI, 0.29–12.21). Death by 18–22 months, hospital death, death/intraventricular hemorrhage/periventricular leukomalacia, and death/necrotizing enterocolitis were significantly lower for infants born at 23, 24, and 25 weeks gestational age if the mothers had received antenatal corticosteroids but the only outcome significantly lower at 22 weeks was death/necrotizing enterocolitis (antenatal corticosteroids, 73.5% vs no antenatal corticosteroids, 84.5%; adjusted odds ratio 0.54; 95% CI, 0.30–0.97).
Among infants born at 23–25 weeks gestation, use of antenatal corticosteroids compared to non-use was associated with a lower rate of death or neurodevelopmental impairment at 18–22 months.
PMCID: PMC3565238  PMID: 22147379
prematurity; infant mortality; neonatal intensive care; neurodevelopmental impairment; lung maturation; limits of viability
8.  Prolonged Initial Empirical Antibiotic Treatment is Associated with Adverse Outcomes in Premature Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;159(5):720-725.
To investigate the outcomes following prolonged empirical antibiotic administration to premature infants in the first week of life, concluding subsequent late onset sepsis (LOS), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), and death.
Study design
Study infants were ≤32 weeks gestational age and ≤ 1500 grams birth weight who survived free of sepsis and NEC for 7 days. Multivariable logistic regression was conducted to determine independent relationships between prolonged initial empirical antibiotic therapy (≥ 5 days) and study outcomes controlling for birth weight, gestational age, race, prolonged premature rupture of membranes, days on high frequency ventilation in 7 days, and the amount of breast milk received in the first 14 days of life.
Of the 365 premature infants surviving 7 days free of sepsis or NEC, 36% received prolonged initial empirical antibiotics, which was independently associated with subsequent outcomes: LOS (odds ratio [OR] 2.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–4.67) and the combination of LOS, NEC, or death (OR 2.66, 95% CI 1.12–6.3).
Prolonged administration of empirical antibiotics to premature infants with sterile cultures in the first week of life is associated with subsequent severe outcomes. Judicious restriction of antibiotic use should be investigated as a strategy to reduce severe outcomes for premature infants.
PMCID: PMC3193552  PMID: 21784435
prolonged antibiotic treatment; death; human milk; late-onset sepsis; necrotizing enterocolitis; premature infant
9.  Grade and Laterality of Intraventricular Hemorrhage to Predict 18–22 Month Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
To determine whether extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants with bilateral compared to unilateral intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) have worse neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18–22 months.
166 ELBW infants (<1000 g) admitted to a Cincinnati NICU from 1998–2005 with a head ultrasound showing Grade I–IV IVH and neurodevelopmental assessment at 18–22 months corrected age were included. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were developed to determine the impact of laterality and grade of IVH and other clinical variables to predict scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Second Edition, Mental Development Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) and the combined outcome of neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI).
Infants with bilateral grade IV IVH had lower adjusted mean Bayley scores compared with infants with unilateral grade IV IVH. For grades I, II, and III IVH, bilaterality of IVH was not associated with lower mean Bayley scores. Infants with grade IV IVH had the highest odds of NDI. The probability of NDI increased with sepsis and postnatal steroid use.
ELBW infants with bilateral compared to those with unilateral grade IV IVH had worse neurodevelopmental outcomes. Infants with grades I–III IVH had similar outcomes whether they had unilateral or bilateral IVH.
PMCID: PMC3475499  PMID: 22220735
premature; sepsis; steroids; Bayley; cognitive; motor
10.  Fucosyltransferase 2 non-secretor and low secretor status predicts severe outcomes in premature infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;158(5):745-751.
To investigate secretor gene fucosyltransferase2 (FUT2) polymorphism and secretor phenotype in relation to outcomes of prematurity.
Study design
Study infants were ≤32 weeks gestational age. Secretor genotype was determined from salivary DNA. Secretor phenotype was measured by H antigen, the carbohydrate produced by secretor gene enzymes, in saliva samples collected on day 9±5. The optimal predictive cut-point in salivary H values was identified by Classification and Regression Tree analysis. Study outcomes were death, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC, Bell’s stage II/III), and confirmed sepsis.
There were 410 study infants, 26 deaths, 30 cases of NEC, and 96 cases of sepsis. Analyzed by genotype, 13% of 95 non-secretors, 5% of 203 heterozygotes, and 2% of 96 infants who were secretor dominant died (p=0.01). Analyzed by phenotype, 15% of 135 infants with low secretor phenotype died, compared with 2% of 248 infants with high secretor phenotype (predictive value=76%, p<0.001). Low secretor phenotype was associated (P<.05) with NEC, and non-secretor genotype was associated (P=.05) with gram negative sepsis. Secretor status remained significant after controlling for multiple clinical factors.
Secretor genotype and phenotype may provide strong predictive biomarkers of adverse outcomes in premature infants.
PMCID: PMC3412418  PMID: 21256510
11.  Prediction of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia by Postnatal Age in Extremely Premature Infants 
Rationale: Benefits of identifying risk factors for bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely premature infants include providing prognostic information, identifying infants likely to benefit from preventive strategies, and stratifying infants for clinical trial enrollment.
Objectives: To identify risk factors for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and the competing outcome of death, by postnatal day; to identify which risk factors improve prediction; and to develop a Web-based estimator using readily available clinical information to predict risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death.
Methods: We assessed infants of 23–30 weeks' gestation born in 17 centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network and enrolled in the Neonatal Research Network Benchmarking Trial from 2000–2004.
Measurements and Main Results: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia was defined as a categorical variable (none, mild, moderate, or severe). We developed and validated models for bronchopulmonary dysplasia risk at six postnatal ages using gestational age, birth weight, race and ethnicity, sex, respiratory support, and FiO2, and examined the models using a C statistic (area under the curve). A total of 3,636 infants were eligible for this study. Prediction improved with advancing postnatal age, increasing from a C statistic of 0.793 on Day 1 to a maximum of 0.854 on Day 28. On Postnatal Days 1 and 3, gestational age best improved outcome prediction; on Postnatal Days 7, 14, 21, and 28, type of respiratory support did so. A Web-based model providing predicted estimates for bronchopulmonary dysplasia by postnatal day is available at
Conclusions: The probability of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely premature infants can be determined accurately using a limited amount of readily available clinical information.
PMCID: PMC3136997  PMID: 21471086
bronchopulmonary dysplasia; prematurity; low-birth-weight infant
12.  Early Onset Neonatal Sepsis: The Burden of Group B Streptococcal and E. coli Disease Continues 
Pediatrics  2011;127(5):817-826.
Guidelines for prevention of group B streptococcal (GBS) infection have successfully reduced early onset (EO) GBS disease. Study results suggest that Escherichia coli is an important EO pathogen.
To determine EO infection rates, pathogens, morbidity, and mortality in a national network of neonatal centers.
Infants with EO infection were identified by prospective surveillance at Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Network centers. Infection was defined by positive culture results for blood and cerebrospinal fluid obtained from infants aged ≤72 hours plus treatment with antibiotic therapy for ≥5 days. Mother and infant characteristics, treatments, and outcomes were studied. Numbers of cases and total live births (LBs) were used to calculate incidence.
Among 396 586 LBs (2006–2009), 389 infants developed EO infection (0.98 cases per 1000 LBs). Infection rates increased with decreasing birth weight. GBS (43%, 0.41 per 1000 LBs) and E coli (29%, 0.28 per 1000 LBs) were most frequently isolated. Most infants with GBS were term (73%); 81% with E coli were preterm. Mothers of 67% of infected term and 58% of infected preterm infants were screened for GBS, and results were positive for 25% of those mothers. Only 76% of mothers with GBS colonization received intrapartum chemoprophylaxis. Although 77% of infected infants required intensive care, 20% of term infants were treated in the normal newborn nursery. Sixteen percent of infected infants died, most commonly with E coli infection (33%).
In the era of intrapartum chemoprophylaxis to reduce GBS, rates of EO infection have declined but reflect a continued burden of disease. GBS remains the most frequent pathogen in term infants, and E coli the most significant pathogen in preterm infants. Missed opportunities for GBS prevention continue. Prevention of E coli sepsis, especially among preterm infants, remains a challenge.
PMCID: PMC3081183  PMID: 21518717
neonatal sepsis; group B streptococcal disease; Escherichia coli infection
13.  Neonatal Outcomes of Extremely Preterm Infants From the NICHD Neonatal Research Network 
Pediatrics  2010;126(3):443-456.
This report presents data from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network on care of and morbidity and mortality rates for very low birth weight infants, according to gestational age (GA).
Perinatal/neonatal data were collected for 9575 infants of extremely low GA (22–28 weeks) and very low birth weight (401–1500 g) who were born at network centers between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2007.
Rates of survival to discharge increased with increasing GA (6% at 22 weeks and 92% at 28 weeks); 1060 infants died at ≤ 12 hours, with most early deaths occurring at 22 and 23 weeks (85% and 43%, respectively). Rates of prenatal steroid use (13% and 53%, respectively), cesarean section (7% and 24%, respectively), and delivery room intubation (19% and 68%, respectively) increased markedly between 22 and 23 weeks. Infants at the lowest GAs were at greatest risk for morbidities. Overall, 93% had respiratory distress syndrome, 46% patent ductus arteriosus, 16% severe intraventricular hemorrhage, 11% necrotizing enterocolitis, and 36% late-onset sepsis. The new severity-based definition of bronchopulmonary dysplasia classified more infants as having bronchopulmonary dysplasia than did the traditional definition of supplemental oxygen use at 36 weeks (68%, compared with 42%). More than one-half of infants with extremely low GAs had undetermined retinopathy status at the time of discharge. Center differences in management and outcomes were identified.
Although the majority of infants with GAs of ≥24 weeks survive, high rates of morbidity among survivors continue to be observed.
PMCID: PMC2982806  PMID: 20732945
extremely low gestation; very low birth weight; morbidity; death
14.  Use of a body proportionality index for growth assessment of preterm infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2008;154(4):486-491.
We evaluated the utility of weight-for-length (defined as gm/cm3, “ponderal index”) as a complementary measure of growth in infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
Study design
Secondary analysis of infants (n=1214) 26-29 weeks at birth, included in a registry database (1991-2003), who had growth data at birth and discharge. Weight-for-age and weight-for-length were categorized as small (<10th percentile), appropriate or large (>90th percentile).
Statistical agreement between the weight-for-age and weight-for-length measures was poor (kappa=0.02 at birth, 0.10 at discharge, Bowker test for symmetry p<0.0001). From birth to discharge, the percent of small-for-age infants increased from 12% to 21%, and the percent of small-for-length infants decreased from 10% to 4%; the percent of large-for-age infants remained similar (<1%), and the percent of large-for-length infants increased from 5% to 17%. At discharge, 92% of small-for-age infants were appropriate or large-for-length, and 19% of appropriate-for-age infants were large-for-length.
Weight-for-age and weight-for-length are complementary measures. Weight-for-length or other measure of body proportionality should be considered for inclusion in routine growth monitoring of infants in the NICU.
PMCID: PMC2745983  PMID: 19041096
Growth status; growth; weight-for-age; weight/length3; ponderal index; weight/length ratio; obesity; overweight; underweight; small-for-gestational age; nutrition

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