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1.  High variability in the dosing of commonly used antibiotics revealed by a Europe-wide point prevalence study: implications for research and dissemination 
BMC Pediatrics  2015;15:41.
Antibiotic dosing in neonates varies between countries and centres, suggesting suboptimal exposures for some neonates. We aimed to describe variations and factors influencing the variability in the dosing of frequently used antibiotics in European NICUs to help define strategies for improvement.
A sub-analysis of the European Study of Neonatal Exposure to Excipients point prevalence study was undertaken. Demographic data of neonates receiving any antibiotic on the study day within one of three two-week periods from January to June 2012, the dose, dosing interval and route of administration of each prescription were recorded. The British National Formulary for Children (BNFC) and Neofax were used as reference sources. Risk factors for deviations exceeding ±25% of the relevant BNFC dosage recommendation were identified by multivariate logistic regression analysis.
In 89 NICUs from 21 countries, 586 antibiotic prescriptions for 342 infants were reported. The twelve most frequently used antibiotics – gentamicin, penicillin G, ampicillin, vancomycin, amikacin, cefotaxime, ceftazidime, meropenem, amoxicillin, metronidazole, teicoplanin and flucloxacillin – covered 92% of systemic prescriptions. Glycopeptide class, GA <32 weeks, 5th minute Apgar score <5 and geographical region were associated with deviation from the BNFC dosage recommendation. While the doses of penicillins exceeded recommendations, antibiotics with safety concerns followed (gentamicin) or were dosed below (vancomycin) recommendations.
The current lack of compliance with existing dosing recommendations for neonates needs to be overcome through the conduct of well-designed clinical trials with a limited number of antibiotics to define pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics, efficacy and safety in this population and by efficient dissemination of the results.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12887-015-0359-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4407781  PMID: 25880733
Neonate; Antibiotics; Beta-lactam; Gentamicin; Vancomycin
2.  Manipulation of drugs to achieve the required dose is intrinsic to paediatric practice but is not supported by guidelines or evidence 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:81.
A lack of age-appropriate formulations can make it difficult to administer medicines to children. A manipulation of the dosage form may be required to achieve the required dose. This study aimed to describe medicines that are manipulated to achieve the required dose in paediatric practice.
A structured, undisguised observational study and postal survey. The observational study investigated drug manipulations occurring in clinical practice across three sites. The questionnaire, administered to a sample of paediatric nurses throughout the UK, surveyed manipulations conducted and nurses’ experiences and views.
The observational study identified 310 manipulations, of which 62% involved tablets, 21% were intravenous drugs and 10% were sachets. Of the 54 observed manipulations 40 involved tablets with 65% of the tablets being cut and 30% dispersed to obtain a smaller dose. 188 manipulations were reported by questionnaire respondents, of these 46% involved tablets, 12% were intravenous drugs, and 12% were nebuliser solutions. Manipulations were predominantly, but not exclusively, identified in specialist clinical areas with more highly dependent patients. Questionnaire respondents were concerned about the accuracy of the dose achieved following manipulations and the lack of practice guidance.
Manipulations to achieve the required dose occur throughout paediatric in-patient settings. The impact of manipulations on the efficacy of the drugs, the accuracy of the dose and any adverse effects on patients is not known. There is a need to develop evidence-based guidance for manipulations of medicines in children.
PMCID: PMC3691579  PMID: 23688279
Drug manipulation; Survey; Dosage forms; Children's medicines
3.  Hospitalised neonates in Estonia commonly receive potentially harmful excipients 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:136.
Information on the neonatal exposure to excipients is limited. Our aim was to describe the extent of excipient intake by Estonian neonates; to classify the excipients according to potential neonatal toxicity and thereby to measure the extent of exposure of neonates to potentially harmful excipients.
A prospective cohort study that recorded all medicines prescribed to patients aged below 28 days admitted to Tartu University Hospital from 01.02-01.08 2008 and to Tallinn Children’s Hospital from 01.02- 01.08 2009 was conducted. Excipients were identified from Summaries of Product Characteristics and classified according to toxicity following a literature review.
1961 prescriptions comprising 107 medicines were written for 348/490 neonates admitted. A total of 123 excipients were found in 1620 (83%) prescriptions and 93 (87%) medicines. 47 (38%) of these excipients were classified as potentially or known to be harmful to neonates. Most neonates (97%) received at least one medicine (median number 2) with potentially or known to be harmful excipient. Parabens were the most commonly used known to be harmful excipients and sodium metabisulphite the most commonly used potentially harmful excipient, received by 343 (99%) and 297 (85%) of treated neonates, respectively.
Hospitalised neonates in Estonia are commonly receiving a wide range of excipients with their medication. Quantitative information about excipients should be made available to pharmacists and neonatologists helping them to take into account excipient issues when selecting medicines and to monitor for adverse effects if administration of medicines containing excipients is unavoidable.
PMCID: PMC3483231  PMID: 22931304
Harmful excipient; Neonate
4.  SCAMP: standardised, concentrated, additional macronutrients, parenteral nutrition in very preterm infants: a phase IV randomised, controlled exploratory study of macronutrient intake, growth and other aspects of neonatal care 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:53.
Infants born <29 weeks gestation are at high risk of neurocognitive disability. Early postnatal growth failure, particularly head growth, is an important and potentially reversible risk factor for impaired neurodevelopmental outcome. Inadequate nutrition is a major factor in this postnatal growth failure, optimal protein and calorie (macronutrient) intakes are rarely achieved, especially in the first week. Infants <29 weeks are dependent on parenteral nutrition for the bulk of their nutrient needs for the first 2-3 weeks of life to allow gut adaptation to milk digestion. The prescription, formulation and administration of neonatal parenteral nutrition is critical to achieving optimal protein and calorie intake but has received little scientific evaluation. Current neonatal parenteral nutrition regimens often rely on individualised prescription to manage the labile, unpredictable biochemical and metabolic control characteristic of the early neonatal period. Individualised prescription frequently fails to translate into optimal macronutrient delivery. We have previously shown that a standardised, concentrated neonatal parenteral nutrition regimen can optimise macronutrient intake.
We propose a single centre, randomised controlled exploratory trial of two standardised, concentrated neonatal parenteral nutrition regimens comparing a standard macronutrient content (maximum protein 2.8 g/kg/day; lipid 2.8 g/kg/day, dextrose 10%) with a higher macronutrient content (maximum protein 3.8 g/kg/day; lipid 3.8 g/kg/day, dextrose 12%) over the first 28 days of life. 150 infants 24-28 completed weeks gestation and birthweight <1200 g will be recruited. The primary outcome will be head growth velocity in the first 28 days of life. Secondary outcomes will include a) auxological data between birth and 36 weeks corrected gestational age b) actual macronutrient intake in first 28 days c) biomarkers of biochemical and metabolic tolerance d) infection biomarkers and other intravascular line complications e) incidence of major complications of prematurity including mortality f) neurodevelopmental outcome at 2 years corrected gestational age
Trial registration
Current controlled trials: ISRCTN76597892; EudraCT Number: 2008-008899-14
PMCID: PMC3141505  PMID: 21663622
5.  Prioritising neonatal medicines research: UK Medicines for Children Research Network scoping survey 
BMC Pediatrics  2009;9:50.
The dosing regimen and indications for many medicines in current use in neonatology are not well defined. There is a need to prioritise research in this area, but currently there is little information about which drugs are used in UK neonatal units and the research needs in this area as perceived by UK neonatologists.
The Neonatal Clinical Studies Group (CSG) of the Medicines for Children Research Network (MCRN) undertook a 2 week prospective scoping survey study to establish which medicines are used in UK neonatal units; how many babies are receiving them; and what clinicians (and other health professionals) believe are important issues for future research.
49 out of 116 units responded to at least one element of the survey (42%). 37 units reported the number of neonates who received medicines over a 2 week period. A total of 3924 medicine-patient pairs were reported with 119 different medicines. 70% of medicine-patient pairs involved medicines that were missing either a license or dose for either term or preterm neonates. 4.3% of medicine-patient pairs involved medicines that were missing both license and dose for any neonate. The most common therapeutic gap in need of additional research identified by UK neonatologists was chronic lung disease (21 responding units), followed by patent ductus arteriosus and vitamin supplements (11 responding units for both)
The research agenda for neonatal medicines can be informed by knowledge of current medicine use and the collective views of the neonatal community.
PMCID: PMC2734345  PMID: 19674445
6.  TIPIT: A randomised controlled trial of thyroxine in preterm infants under 28 weeks gestation: Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Magnetic Resonance Angiography protocol 
BMC Pediatrics  2008;8:26.
Infants born at extreme prematurity are at high risk of developmental disability. A major risk factor for disability is having a low level of thyroid hormone described as hypothyroxinaemia, which is recognised to be a frequent phenomenon in these infants. Derangements of critical thyroid function during the sensitive window in prematurity when early development occurs, may have a range of long term effects for brain development. Further research in preterm infants using neuroimaging techniques will increase our understanding of the specificity of the effects of hypothyroxinaemia on the developing foetal brain. This is an explanatory double blinded randomised controlled trial which is aimed to assess the effect of thyroid hormone supplementation on brain size, key brain structures, extent of myelination, white matter integrity and vessel morphology, somatic growth and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
The study is a multi-centred double blinded randomised controlled trial of thyroid hormone supplementation in babies born below 28 weeks' gestation. All infants will receive either levothyroxine or placebo until 32 weeks corrected gestational age. The primary outcomes will be width of the sub-arachnoid space measured using cranial ultrasound and head circumference at 36 weeks corrected gestational age. The secondary outcomes will be thyroid hormone concentrations, the hypothalamic pituitary axis status and auxological data between birth and expected date of delivery; thyroid gland volume, brain size, volumes of key brain structures, extent of myelination and brain vessel morphology at expected date of delivery and markers of morbidity which include duration of mechanical ventilation and/or oxygen requirement and chronic lung disease.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN89493983
PMCID: PMC2464591  PMID: 18590560

Results 1-6 (6)