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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Italian Journal of Pediatrics 1/2017

Pattern of drug use among preterm neonates: results from an Italian neonatal intensive care unit

Italian Journal of Pediatrics > Ausgabe 1/2017
A. Girardi, S. Galletti, E. Raschi, A. Koci, E. Poluzzi, G. Faldella, F. De Ponti



Drug use in preterm neonates admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been investigated, so far, in terms of unauthorized or off-label use; very little is known on the use of combinations of different active substances, which is frequently required in this population (prophylaxis of infections, treatment of concomitant diseases). The aim of this study was to describe the most common patterns of drug use in an Italian NICU, focusing on those with nephrotoxic potential.


Medical records of preterm neonates (<37 weeks of gestational age) weighing less than 1,500 g at birth and admitted to an Italian NICU were scrutinized in a 3-year retrospective investigation. Analysis included drug exposure, duration of therapies, co-administration of drugs with potential renal side effects; also daily protein supplement was calculated from parenteral nutrition.


A cohort of 159 preterm neonates was selected; 68 were born weighing less than 1,000 g (extremely low birth weight infants, ELBW, Group A), 91 weighed between 1,000 and 1,500 g at birth (Group B). Compared to Group B, neonates of Group A were more likely to receive pharmacological treatments: the most used drugs were antibiotics (especially ampicillin and amikacin, p = .07 and p < .001, respectively), antifungals (especially fluconazole, p < .001), and diuretics (especially furosemide, p < .001). Analysis of co-administration of drugs with potential nephrotoxicity showed ampicillin and amikacin as the most reported combination (94.1% of Group A and 31.9% of Group B), the combination of furosemide with antibacterials (ampicillin or amikacin) was also frequently reported, with average period of combination shorter than 2 days.


ELBW infants were exposed to a higher number of drugs compared to other neonates and were more likely to receive associations of drugs with nephrotoxic potential (e.g. furosemide and amikacin), though only for short cycles. Further studies should evaluate the safety profile (especially potential renal side effects) related to most commonly used combinations.
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