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1.  Effect of Depth and Duration of Cooling on Deaths in the NICU Among Neonates With Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy 
JAMA  2014;312(24):2629-2639.
Hypothermia at 33.5°C for 72 hours for neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy reduces death or disability to 44% to 55%; longer cooling and deeper cooling are neuroprotective in animal models.
To determine if longer duration cooling (120 hours), deeper cooling (32.0°C), or both are superior to cooling at 33.5°C for 72 hours in neonates who are full-term with moderate or severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.
Arandomized, 2 × 2 factorial design clinical trial performed in 18 US centers in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network between October 2010 and November 2013.
Neonates were assigned to 4 hypothermia groups; 33.5°C for 72 hours, 32.0°C for 72 hours, 33.5°C for 120 hours, and 32.0°C for 120 hours.
The primary outcome of death or disability at 18 to 22 months is ongoing. The independent data and safety monitoring committee paused the trial to evaluate safety (cardiac arrhythmia, persistent acidosis, major vessel thrombosis and bleeding, and death in the neonatal intensive care unit [NICU]) after the first 50 neonates were enrolled, then after every subsequent 25 neonates. The trial was closed for emerging safety profile and futility analysis after the eighth review with 364 neonates enrolled (of 726 planned). This report focuses on safety and NICU deaths by marginal comparisons of 72 hours’ vs 120 hours’ duration and 33.5°C depth vs 32.0°C depth (predefined secondary outcomes).
The NICU death rates were 7 of 95 neonates (7%) for the 33.5°C for 72 hours group, 13 of 90 neonates (14%) for the 32.0°C for 72 hours group, 15 of 96 neonates (16%) for the 33.5°C for 120 hours group, and 14 of 83 neonates (17%) for the 32.0°C for 120 hours group. The adjusted risk ratio (RR) for NICU deaths for the 120 hours group vs 72 hours group was 1.37 (95% CI, 0.92–2.04) and for the 32.0°C group vs 33.5°C group was 1.24 (95% CI, 0.69–2.25). Safety outcomes were similar between the 120 hours group vs 72 hours group and the 32.0°C group vs 33.5°C group, except major bleeding occurred among 1% in the 120 hours group vs 3% in the 72 hours group (RR, 0.25 [95% CI, 0.07–0.91]). Futility analysis determined that the probability of detecting a statistically significant benefit for longer cooling, deeper cooling, or both for NICU death was less than 2%.
Among neonates who were full-term with moderate or severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, longer cooling, deeper cooling, or both compared with hypothermia at 33.5°C for 72 hours did not reduce NICU death. These results have implications for patient care and design of future trials.
PMCID: PMC4335311  PMID: 25536254
2.  Inhaled Nitric Oxide Usage in Preterm Infants in the NICHD Neonatal Research Network: Inter-site Variation and Propensity Evaluation 
The use of inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) in preterm infants remains controversial. In October 2010, an NIH consensus development conference cautioned against use of iNO in preterm infants.
1) To determine prevalence and variability in use of iNO in the NICHD Neonatal Research Network (NRN) before and after the consensus conference and 2) separately, to examine associations between iNO use and severe BPD or death.
The NICHD NRN Generic Database collects data including iNO use on very preterm infants. A total of 13 centers contributed data across the time period 2008–2011. Infants exposed or not to iNO were compared using logistic regression, which included factors related to risk as well as their likelihood of being exposed to iNO.
A total of 4,885 infants were assessed between 2008–2011; 128 (2.6%) received iNO before Day 7, 140 (2.9%) between Day 7 and 28 and 47 (1.0%) at >28 days. Center-specific iNO use during 2008–2010 ranged from 21.9% to 0.4%; 12 of 13 sites reduced usage and overall NRN iNO usage decreased from 4.6% to 1.6% (p<0.001) in 2011. Use of iNO started between Day 7 and Day 14 was more prevalent among younger infants with more severe courses in Week 1 and associated with increased risk of severe BPD or death (OR 2.24;95% CI 1.23–4.07).
The variability and total use of iNO decreased in 2011 compared to 2008–2010. iNO administration started at ≥Day 7 was associated with more severe outcomes compared to infants without iNO exposure.
PMCID: PMC4323079  PMID: 24901452
Inhaled nitric oxide; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; extremely premature infant
3.  Death or Neurodevelopmental Impairment at 18 To 22 Months in a Randomized Trial of Early Dexamethasone to Prevent Death or Chronic Lung Disease in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;164(1):34-39.e2.
To evaluate the incidence of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) at 18 to 22 months corrected age in subjects enrolled in a trial of early dexamethasone treatment to prevent death or chronic lung disease in extremely low birth weight infants.
Evaluation of infants at 18 to 22 months corrected age included anthropomorphic measurements, a standard neurological examination, and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II, including the Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI). NDI was defined as moderate or severe cerebral palsy, MDI or PDI less than 70, blindness, or hearing impairment.
Death or NDI at 18 to 22 months corrected age was similar in the dexamethasone and placebo groups (65 vs 66 percent, p= 0.99 among those with known outcome). The proportion of survivors with NDI was also similar, as were mean values for weight, length, and head circumference and the proportion of infants with poor growth (50 vs 41 percent, p=0.42 for weight less than 10th percentile). Forty nine percent of infants in the placebo group received treatment with corticosteroid compared to 32% in the dexamethasone group (p=0.02).
The risk of death or NDI and rate of poor growth were high but similar in the dexamethasone and placebo groups. The lack of a discernible effect of early dexamethasone on neurodevelopmental outcome may be due to frequent clinical corticosteroid use in the placebo group.
PMCID: PMC4120744  PMID: 23992673
neurodevelopmental outcome; growth; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; cerebral palsy; neonatal follow-up
4.  Cytokines Associated with Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
Pediatric research  2014;76(1):100-108.
The goal was to identify cytokines associated with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Based on our earlier reports of decreased tissue expression of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, we hypothesized that infants with NEC also have low blood TGF-β levels. We further hypothesized that because fetal inflammation increases the risk of NEC, infants who develop NEC have elevated blood cytokine levels in early neonatal period.
Data on 104 extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants with NEC and 893 without NEC from 17 centers were analyzed. Clinical information was correlated with blood cytokine levels on postnatal day 1 (D1), D3, D7, D14, and D21.
Male gender, non-Caucasian/non-African-American ethnicity, sepsis, lower blood TGF-β and interleukin (IL)-2, and higher IL-8 levels were associated with NEC. The NEC group had lower TGF-β levels than controls since D1. The diagnosis of NEC was associated with elevated IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1/CC-motif ligand (CCL)-2, macrophage inflammatory protein-1β/CCL3, and C-reactive protein.
Clinical characteristics, such as gender and ethnicity, and low blood TGF-β levels are associated with higher risk of NEC. Infants who developed NEC did not start with high blood levels of inflammatory cytokines, but these rose mainly after the onset of NEC.
PMCID: PMC4062583  PMID: 24732104
5.  Outcomes of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants with Acidosis at Birth 
To test the hypothesis that acidosis at birth is associated with the combined primary outcome of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants, and to develop a predictive model of death/NDI exploring perinatal acidosis as a predictor variable.
The study population consisted of ELBW infants born between 2002-2007 at NICHD Neonatal Research Network hospitals. Infants with cord blood gas data and documentation of either mortality prior to discharge or 18-22 month neurodevelopmental outcomes were included. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to determine the contribution of perinatal acidosis, defined as a cord blood gas with a pH<7 or base excess (BE)<-12, to death/NDI in ELBW infants. In addition, a multivariable model predicting death/NDI was developed.
3979 patients were identified of whom 249 had a cord gas pH<7 or BE<-12 mEq/L. 2124 patients (53%) had the primary outcome of death/NDI. After adjustment for confounding variables, pH<7 and BE<-12 mEq/L were each significantly associated with death/NDI (OR=2.5[1.6,4.2]; and OR=1.5[1.1,2.0], respectively). However, inclusion of pH or BE did not improve the ability of the multivariable model to predict death/NDI.
Perinatal acidosis is significantly associated with death/NDI in ELBW infants. Perinatal acidosis is infrequent in ELBW infants, however, and other factors are more important in predicting death/NDI.
PMCID: PMC4274605  PMID: 24554564
Cord blood gas; Premature infant; Preterm infant; Neurodevelopmental impairment
6.  Serum Tocopherol Levels in Very Preterm Infants After a Single Dose of Vitamin E at Birth 
Pediatrics  2013;132(6):e1626-e1633.
Our aim was to examine the impact of a single enteral dose of vitamin E on serum tocopherol levels. The study was undertaken to see whether a single dose of vitamin E soon after birth can rapidly increase the low α-tocopherol levels seen in very preterm infants. If so, this intervention could be tested as a means of reducing the risk of intracranial hemorrhage.
Ninety-three infants <27 weeks’ gestation and <1000 g were randomly assigned to receive a single dose of vitamin E or placebo by gastric tube within 4 hours of birth. The vitamin E group received 50 IU/kg of vitamin E as dl-α-tocopheryl acetate (Aquasol E). The placebo group received sterile water. Blood samples were taken for measurement of serum tocopherol levels by high-performance liquid chromatography before dosing and 24 hours and 7 days after dosing.
Eighty-eight infants received the study drug and were included in the analyses. The α-tocopherol levels were similar between the groups at baseline but higher in the vitamin E group at 24 hours (median 0.63 mg/dL vs 0.42 mg/dL, P = .003) and 7 days (2.21 mg/dL vs 1.86 mg/dL, P = .04). There were no differences between groups in γ-tocopherol levels. At 24 hours, 30% of vitamin E infants and 62% of placebo infants had α-tocopherol levels <0.5 mg/dL.
A 50-IU/kg dose of vitamin E raised serum α-tocopherol levels, but to consistently achieve α-tocopherol levels >0.5 mg/dL, a higher dose or several doses of vitamin E may be needed.
PMCID: PMC3838534  PMID: 24218460
vitamin E; preterm infants
7.  Immunogenicity of Haemophilus influenzae Type b Protein Conjugate Vaccines in Very Low Birth Weight Infants 
PMCID: PMC3960569  PMID: 24569312
Infant; premature; infant; very low birth weight; Haemophilus influenzae vacines; immunization; vaccines
8.  Incidence, management and outcomes of cardiovascular insufficiency in critically ill term and late preterm newborn infants 
American journal of perinatology  2014;31(11):947-956.
To characterize the incidence, management and short term outcomes of cardiovascular insufficiency (CVI) in mechanically ventilated newborns, evaluating 4 separate pre-specified definitions.
Study Design
Multicenter, prospective cohort study of infants ≥34 weeks gestational age (GA) and on mechanical ventilation during the first 72 hours. CVI was prospectively defined as either (1) mean arterial pressure (MAP)
Of 647 who met inclusion criteria, 419 (65%) met ≥1 definition of CVI. Of these, 98% received fluid boluses, 36% inotropes and 17% corticosteroids. Of treated infants, 46% did not have CVI as defined by a MAP < GA ± signs of inadequate perfusion. Inotrope therapy was associated with increased mortality (11.1% vs. 1.3%; P < 0.05).
More than half of the infants met at least one definition of CVI. However, almost half of the treated infants met none of the definitions. Inotropic therapy was associated with increased mortality. These findings can help guide the design of future studies of CVI in newborns.
PMCID: PMC4127379  PMID: 24515617
blood pressure; cardiovascular insufficiency; mechanical ventilation; inotrope; fluid bolus; glucocorticoid; outcomes; newborn
To determine if current retinopathy of prematurity screening guidelines1 adequately identify treatable ROP in a contemporary cohort of extremely low gestation infants.
Study Design
Data from the Surfactant, Positive Pressure, and Pulse Oximetry Randomized Trial were used. Inborn infants 24 0/7 to 27 6/7 weeks gestational age with consent prior to delivery were enrolled in 2005-2009. Severe retinopathy of prematurity (Type 1 retinopathy of prematurity or treatment with laser, cryotherapy, or bevacizumab) or death was the primary outcome for the randomized trial. Examinations followed then current American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) screening recommendations, beginning by 31-33 weeks postmenstrual age.2,3
1316 infants were enrolled in the trial. 997 of the 1121 who survived to first eye exam had final retinopathy of prematurity outcome determined. 137 (14% of 997) met criteria for severe retinopathy of prematurity and 128 (93%) of those had sufficient data (without missing or delayed exams) to determine age of onset of severe retinopathy of prematurity. Postmenstrual age at onset was 32.1 to 53.1 wks. In this referral center cohort, 1.4% (14/997) developed severe retinopathy of prematurity after discharge.
Our contemporary data support the 2013 AAP screening guidelines for ROP for infants 24 0/7 to 27 6/7 weeks gestational age.1 Some infants do not meet treatment criteria until after discharge home. Post-discharge follow-up of infants who are still at risk for severe ROP is crucial for timely detection and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3969774  PMID: 24503911
extremely premature infant
Pediatric research  2013;75(3):424-430.
Adults with the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) alleles e4 and e2 are at high risk of poor neurologic outcome after brain injury. The e4 allele has been associated with cerebral palsy and the e2 allele has been associated with worse neurologic outcome with congenital heart disease. This study was done to test the hypothesis that APOE genotype is associated with outcome among neonates who survive after hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
We conducted a cohort study of infants who survived HIE and had 18 – 22 month standardized neurodevelopmental evaluations to assess associations between disability and APOE genotypes e3/e3, e4/-, and e2/-
139 survivors were genotyped. 86 (62%) were e3/e3, 41 (29%) were e4/-, and 14 (10%) were e2/-. 129 infants had genotype and follow-up data; 26% had moderate or severe disabilities. Disability prevalence was 30% and 19% among those with and without e3/e3 genotype, 25% and 26% among those with and without the e2 allele, and 18% and 29% among those with and without the e4 allele. None of the differences were statistically significant. Cerebral palsy prevalence was also similar among genotype groups.
Disability was not associated with APOE genotype in this cohort of HIE survivors.
PMCID: PMC4095992  PMID: 24322171
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(26):2495-2504.
Previous results from our trial of early treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) versus early surfactant treatment in infants showed no significant difference in the outcome of death or bronchopulmonary dysplasia. A lower (vs. higher) target range of oxygen saturation was associated with a lower rate of severe retinopathy but higher mortality. We now report longer-term results from our prespecified hypotheses.
Using a 2-by-2 factorial design, we randomly assigned infants born between 24 weeks 0 days and 27 weeks 6 days of gestation to early CPAP with a limited ventilation strategy or early surfactant administration and to lower or higher target ranges of oxygen saturation (85 to 89% or 91 to 95%). The primary composite outcome for the longer-term analysis was death before assessment at 18 to 22 months or neurodevelopmental impairment at 18 to 22 months of corrected age.
The primary outcome was determined for 1234 of 1316 enrolled infants (93.8%); 990 of the 1058 surviving infants (93.6%) were evaluated at 18 to 22 months of corrected age. Death or neurodevelopmental impairment occurred in 27.9% of the infants in the CPAP group (173 of 621 infants), versus 29.9% of those in the surfactant group (183 of 613) (relative risk, 0.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.78 to 1.10; P = 0.38), and in 30.2% of the infants in the lower-oxygen-saturation group (185 of 612), versus 27.5% of those in the higher-oxygen-saturation group (171 of 622) (relative risk, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.94 to 1.32; P = 0.21). Mortality was increased with the lower-oxygen-saturation target (22.1%, vs. 18.2% with the higher-oxygen-saturation target; relative risk, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.00 to 1.55; P = 0.046).
We found no significant differences in the composite outcome of death or neurodevelopmental impairment among extremely premature infants randomly assigned to early CPAP or early surfactant administration and to a lower or higher target range of oxygen saturation. (Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; SUPPORT number, NCT00233324.)
PMCID: PMC4140695  PMID: 23268664
Pediatrics  2013;132(1):e175-e184.
To examine factors affecting center differences in mortality for extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants.
We analyzed data for 5418 ELBW infants born at 16 Neonatal Research Network centers during 2006–2009. The primary outcomes of early mortality (≤12 hours after birth) and in-hospital mortality were assessed by using multilevel hierarchical models. Models were developed to investigate associations of center rates of selected interventions with mortality while adjusting for patient-level risk factors. These analyses were performed for all gestational ages (GAs) and separately for GAs <25 weeks and ≥25 weeks.
Early and in-hospital mortality rates among centers were 5% to 36% and 11% to 53% for all GAs, 13% to 73% and 28% to 90% for GAs <25 weeks, and 1% to 11% and 7% to 26% for GAs ≥25 weeks, respectively. Center intervention rates significantly predicted both early and in-hospital mortality for infants <25 weeks. For infants ≥25 weeks, intervention rates did not predict mortality. The variance in mortality among centers was significant for all GAs and outcomes. Center use of interventions and patient risk factors explained some but not all of the center variation in mortality rates.
Center intervention rates explain a portion of the center variation in mortality, especially for infants born at <25 weeks’ GA. This finding suggests that deaths may be prevented by standardizing care for very early GA infants. However, differences in patient characteristics and center intervention rates do not account for all of the observed variability in mortality; and for infants with GA ≥25 weeks these differences account for only a small part of the variation in mortality.
PMCID: PMC3691533  PMID: 23753096
mortality rates; outcome; NICU; preterm infants; extremely preterm infants
Pediatrics  2013;132(1):49-61.
Birth defects (BDs) are an important cause of infant mortality and disproportionately occur among low birth weight infants. We determined the prevalence of BDs in a cohort of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants cared for at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network (NRN) centers over a 10-year period and examined the relationship between anomalies, neonatal outcomes, and surgical care.
Infant and maternal data were collected prospectively for infants weighing 401 to 1500 g at NRN sites between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2007. Poisson regression models were used to compare risk of outcomes for infants with versus without BDs while adjusting for gestational age and other characteristics.
A BD was present in 1776 (4.8%) of the 37 262 infants in our VLBW cohort. Yearly prevalence of BDs increased from 4.0% of infants born in 1998 to 5.6% in 2007, P < .001. Mean gestational age overall was 28 weeks, and mean birth weight was 1007 g. Infants with BDs were more mature but more likely to be small for gestational age compared with infants without BDs. Chromosomal and cardiovascular anomalies were most frequent with each occurring in 20% of affected infants. Mortality was higher among infants with BDs (49% vs 18%; adjusted relative risk: 3.66 [95% confidence interval: 3.41–3.92]; P < .001) and varied by diagnosis. Among those surviving >3 days, more infants with BDs underwent major surgery (48% vs 13%, P < .001).
Prevalence of BDs increased during the 10 years studied. BDs remain an important cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality among VLBW infants.
PMCID: PMC3691532  PMID: 23733791
birth defects; prematurity; Neonatal Research Network; low birth weight
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
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;162(5):942-948.e3.
To examine whether preterm very low birth weight (VLBW) infants have an increased risk of late-onset sepsis (LOS) following early-onset sepsis (EOS).
Study design
Retrospective analysis of VLBW infants (401-1500 g) born September 1998 through December 2009 who survived >72 hours and were cared for within the NICHD Neonatal Research Network. Sepsis was defined by growth of bacteria or fungi in a blood culture obtained ≤72 hr of birth (EOS) or >72 hr (LOS) and antimicrobial therapy for ≥5 days or death <5 d while receiving therapy. Regression models were used to assess risk of death or LOS by 120d and LOS by 120d among survivors to discharge or 120d, adjusting for gestational age and other covariates.
Of 34,396 infants studied 504 (1.5%) had EOS. After adjustment, risk of death or LOS by 120d did not differ overall for infants with EOS compared with those without EOS [RR:0.99 (0.89-1.09)] but was reduced in infants born at <25wk gestation [RR:0.87 (0.76-0.99), p=0.048]. Among survivors, no difference in LOS risk was found overall for infants with versus without EOS [RR:0.88 (0.75-1.02)], but LOS risk was shorter in infants with BW 401-750 g who had EOS [RR:0.80 (0.64-0.99), p=0.047].
Risk of LOS after EOS was not increased in VLBW infants. Surprisingly, risk of LOS following EOS appeared to be reduced in the smallest, most premature infants, underscoring the need for age-specific analyses of immune function.
PMCID: PMC3622770  PMID: 23295144
Very low birth weight; early-onset sepsis; late-onset sepsis
Sepsis in older children and adults modifies immune system function. We compared serotype-specific antibody responses to heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) in very low birth weight infants (<1500g,VLBW) with and without blood stream infection (BSI) during their birth hospitalization.
Patients and Methods
Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data for the Neonatal Research Network study of PCV7 responses among VLBWs. Infants received PCV7 at 2, 4, and 6 months after birth with blood drawn 4–6 weeks after 3rd dose. Serotype antibodies were compared between infants with or without a history of BSI. Regression models were constructed with birth-weight groups and other confounding factors identified in the primary study.
244 infants completed the vaccine series and had serum antibody available; 82 had BSI. After adjustment, BSI was not associated with reduced odds of serum antibody ≥0.35μg/mL.
BSI was not associated with reduced odds of WHO-defined protective PCV7 responses in VLBWs.
PMCID: PMC3722279  PMID: 23370608
VLBW; immune response; vaccine; sepsis; blood stream infection
American journal of perinatology  2012;29(9):731-740.
To determine in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants if elevated blood inteferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-18, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) are associated with need for shunt following severe intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), or with ventricular dilation following milder grades /no IVH.
Study design
Whole blood cytokines were measured on postnatal days 1, 3, 7, 14, and 21. Maximum IVH grade in the first 28d, and shunt surgery or ventricular dilation on subsequent ultrasound (28d -36 w PMA) were determined.
Of 902 infants in the NICHD NRN Cytokine study who survived to 36w/discharge, 3.1% had shunts. Of the 12% of infants with severe (Gr III–IV) IVH, 26% had a shunt associated with elevated TNF-α. None of the infants without IVH (69%) or with Gr I (12%) or II (7%) IVH received shunts, but 8.4% developed ventricular dilation, associated with lower IFN-γ and higher IL-18.
Statistically significant but clinically non-discriminatory alterations in blood cytokines were noted in infants with severe IVH who received shunts and in those without severe IVH who developed ventricular dilation. Blood cytokines are likely associated with brain injury but may not be clinically useful as biomarkers for white matter damage.
PMCID: PMC3619127  PMID: 22773292
Infant; premature; Cytokines; Hydrocephalus; Intraventricular hemorrhage; Intracranial hemorrhage
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
Pediatric cardiology  2012;34(1):149-154.
Permanent ductal closure involves anatomic remodeling, in which transforming growth factor (TGF)-β appears to play a role. Our objective was to evaluate the relationship, if any, between blood spot TGF-β on day 3 and day 7 of life and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants. Prospective observational study involving ELBW infants (n = 968) in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network who had TGF-β measured on filter paper spot blood samples using a Luminex assay. Infants with a PDA (n = 493) were significantly more immature, had lower birth weights, and had higher rates of respiratory distress syndrome than those without PDA (n = 475). TGF-β on days 3 and 7 of life, respectively, were significantly lower among neonates with PDA (median 1,177 pg/ml [range 642–1,896]; median 1,386 pg/ml [range 868–1,913]) compared with others without PDA (median 1,334 pg/ml [range 760–2,064]; median 1,712 pg/ml [range 1,014–2,518 pg/ml]). The significant difference persisted when death or PDA was considered a composite outcome. TGF-β levels were not significantly different among subgroups of infants with PDA who were not treated (n = 51) versus those who were treated medically (n = 283) or by surgical ligation (n = 159). TGF-β was not a significant predictor of death or PDA (day 3 odds ratio [OR] 0.99, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 0.83–1.17; day 7 OR 0.88, 95 % CI 0.74–1.04) on adjusted analyses. Our results suggest that blood spot TGF-β alone is unlikely to be a reliable biomarker of a clinically significant PDA or its responsiveness to treatment.
PMCID: PMC3704212  PMID: 22684193
Transforming growth factor; Patent ductus arteriosus; Preterm; Neonate
The Journal of Pediatrics  2012;161(1):65-69.e1.
To assess the feasibility of a randomized placebo controlled trial (RCT) of blood pressure (BP) management for extremely preterm infants.
Study design
This was a prospective pilot RCT of infants 230/7 – 266/7 weeks gestation who had protocol-defined low BP in the first 24 postnatal hours. Enrolled infants were administered a study infusion (dopamine or placebo) and a study syringe medication (hydrocortisone or placebo).
Of the 366 infants screened, 119 (33%) had low BP, 58 (16%) met all entry criteria, and 10 (3%) were enrolled. 161 (44%) infants were ineligible because they received early indomethacin. Only 17% of eligible infants were enrolled. Problems with consent included insufficient time, parent unavailability, and physician unwillingness to enroll critically ill infants. Two infants were withdrawn from the study due to the potential risk of intestinal perforation with simultaneous administration of hydrocortisone and indomethacin.
This pilot RCT was not feasible due to low eligibility and consent rates. An RCT of BP management for extremely preterm infants may require a waiver of consent for research in emergency care. The frequent use of early indomethacin and the associated risk of intestinal perforation when used with hydrocortisone may limit future investigations to only inotropic medications.
PMCID: PMC3357442  PMID: 22336574
Extremely preterm infant; hypotension; hydrocortisone; dopamine; informed consent
Pediatrics  2012;130(1):e115-e125.
Methods are required to predict prognosis with changes in clinical course. Death or neurodevelopmental impairment in extremely premature neonates can be predicted at birth/admission to the ICU by considering gender, antenatal steroids, multiple birth, birth weight, and gestational age. Predictions may be improved by using additional information available later during the clinical course. Our objective was to develop serial predictions of outcome by using prognostic factors available over the course of NICU hospitalization.
Data on infants with birth weight ≤1.0 kg admitted to 18 large academic tertiary NICUs during 1998–2005 were used to develop multivariable regression models following stepwise variable selection. Models were developed by using all survivors at specific times during hospitalization (in delivery room [n = 8713], 7-day [n = 6996], 28-day [n = 6241], and 36-week postmenstrual age [n = 5118]) to predict death or death/neurodevelopmental impairment at 18 to 22 months.
Prediction of death or neurodevelopmental impairment in extremely premature infants is improved by using information available later during the clinical course. The importance of birth weight declines, whereas the importance of respiratory illness severity increases with advancing postnatal age. The c-statistic in validation models ranged from 0.74 to 0.80 with misclassification rates ranging from 0.28 to 0.30.
Dynamic models of the changing probability of individual outcome can improve outcome predictions in preterm infants. Various current and future scenarios can be modeled by input of different clinical possibilities to develop individual “outcome trajectories” and evaluate impact of possible morbidities on outcome.
PMCID: PMC3382921  PMID: 22689874
logistic models; premature infant; predictive value of tests; prognosis
Pediatrics  2012;129(6):e1508-e1516.
We sought to determine if a center’s approach to care of premature infants at the youngest gestational ages (22–24 weeks’ gestation) is associated with clinical outcomes among infants of older gestational ages (25–27 weeks’ gestation).
Inborn infants of 401 to 1000 g birth weight and 22 0/7 to 27 6/7 weeks’ gestation at birth from 2002 to 2008 were enrolled into a prospectively collected database at 20 centers participating in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. Markers of an aggressive approach to care for 22- to 24-week infants included use of antenatal corticosteroids, cesarean delivery, and resuscitation. The primary outcome was death before postnatal day 120 for infants of 25 to 27 weeks’ gestation. Secondary outcomes were the combined outcomes of death or a number of morbidities associated with prematurity.
Our study included 3631 infants 22 to 24 weeks’ gestation and 5227 infants 25 to 27 weeks’ gestation. Among the 22- to 24-week infants, use of antenatal corticosteroids ranged from 28% to 100%, cesarean delivery from 13% to 65%, and resuscitation from 30% to 100% by center. Centers with higher rates of antenatal corticosteroid use in 22- to 24-week infants had reduced rates of death, death or retinopathy of prematurity, death or late-onset sepsis, death or necrotizing enterocolitis, and death or neurodevelopmental impairment in 25- to 27-week infants.
This study suggests that physicians’ willingness to provide care to extremely low gestation infants as measured by frequency of use of antenatal corticosteroids is associated with improved outcomes for more-mature infants.
PMCID: PMC3362905  PMID: 22641761
low-birth weight infant; NICUs; treatment; patient outcome assessment
Pediatric research  2012;72(2):212-220.
Information on cytokine profiles in fungal sepsis (FS), an important cause of mortality in extremely low birthweight infants (ELBW), is lacking. We hypothesized that cytokine profiles in the 1st 21 days of life in ELBW with FS differ from those with bacterial sepsis (BS) or no sepsis (NS).
In a secondary analyses of the NICHD Cytokine study, three groups were defined - FS (≥1 episode of FS), BS (≥1 episode of BS without FS), and NS. Association between 11 cytokines assayed in dried blood spots obtained on days 0-1, 3±1, 7±2, 14±3, and 21±3 and sepsis group was explored.
Of 1066 infants, 89 had FS and 368 had BS. Compared to BS, FS was more likely to be associated with lower birthweight, vaginal delivery, patent ductus arteriosus, postnatal steroids, multiple central lines, longer respiratory support and hospital stay, and higher mortality (p<0.05). Analyses controlling for covariates showed significant group differences over time for IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-18, TGF-β and TNF-α (p<0.05).
Significant differences in profiles for IFN-γ, IL-10, IL-18, TGF-β and TNF-α in FS, BS or NS in this hypothesis-generating secondary study require validation in rigorously designed prospective studies and may have implications for diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3629907  PMID: 22562288
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
The Journal of pediatrics  2011;159(6):919-925.e3.
To determine if selected pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines/mediators of inflammation reported to be related to development of cerebral palsy predict neurodevelopmental outcome in extremely low birth weight infants.
Study design
Infants with birth weights ≤ 1000 g (n=1067) had blood samples collected at birth and on days 3±1, 7±1, 14±3, and 21±3 to examine the association between cytokines and neurodevelopmental outcomes. The analyses were focused on five cytokines (IL-1β, IL-8, TNF-α, RANTES, and IL-2) reported to be most predictive of CP in term and late preterm infants.
IL-8 was higher on days 0–4 and subsequently in infants who developed CP compared with infants who did not develop CP in both unadjusted and adjusted analyses. Other cytokines (IL-12, IL-17, TNF-β, SIL-rα, MIP-1β) were found to be altered on days 0–4 in infants who developed CP.
CP in former preterm infants may, in part, have a late perinatal and/or early neonatal inflammatory origin.
PMCID: PMC3215787  PMID: 21798559

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