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Caffeine Found to Reduce Incidence of Acute Kidney Injury in Neonates
BIRMINGHAM – Preterm neonates who are exposed to caffeine within the first seven days after birth have reduced incidence and severity of acute kidney injuries than neonates who did not, according to findings from the Assessment of Worldwide Acute Kidney Injury Epidemiology in Neonates study, published in JAMA Pediatrics. David Askenazi, M.D., professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Department of Pediatrics and director of Children’s of Alabama’s Pediatric and Infant Center for Acute Nephrology, was the study’s co author.

“As acute kidney injury occurs in 40 percent of preterm neonates and has an association with increased hospital stays, expenditures, morbidity, and mortality, this research is critical in identifying ways that treatment methods – in this case, caffeine administration – can help neonates with who are at increased risk of acute kidney injury,” Askenazi said.

In the multicenter, cohort study, 675 preterm neonates at less than 33 weeks’ gestation and less than seven days old were either administered caffeine or not. Of the study participants, acute kidney injury occurred frequently among neonates who received caffeine than among those who did not at a 11.2 percent versus 31.6 percent ratio.

In neonatal intensive care units across the country, neonates are given caffeine as a respiratory stimulant, which helps them stay awake and allows their underdeveloped lungs and brains continue to remember to breathe; this method of treatment lessens the chance of having to intubate the infant and reduces episodes of intermittent hypoxia. This study is the first of its kind to find a correlation between caffeine and acute kidney injury.

“The study’s findings certainly have potential to change clinical treatment, as it will help influence practice patterns moving forward and how we care for the needs of neonates, specifically as it relates to kidney development and disease,” Askenazi said.