WASHINGTON, July 25, 2017 – When you sat down for your morning cup of coffee you may never have imagined how the caffeine in that drink may be saving the life of a premature baby today. According to Medical News Today, parents of premature babies have several good reasons to celebrate why caffeine’s benefits may do more than help their baby breathe according to a new study.
For coffee drinkers, the notion that their favorite morning wake up beverage can actually assist in the stimulation of breathing for preemies may seem a bit out there. But, caffeine is an effective drug which is widely used in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) to treat and prevent respiratory and lung problems in premature babies.
Now, based upon findings in a new study recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, lead study author Lex W. Doyle, professes that caffeine’s benefits may actually continue into the baby’s childhood.
Doyle, professor of neonatal pediatrics at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, stated. “Previous studies have shown that caffeine, which belongs to a group of drugs known as methylxanthines, reduces apnea of prematurity, a condition in which the baby stops breathing for many seconds.”
Caffeine’s ability to reduce injury to the baby’s lungs has long term effects which can now be measured, like reducing the length of time that a preemie needs breathing assistance.
The long-term impact of caffeine’s benefit is tied to how NICUs use caffeine in reducing bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which can result in breathing difficulties later in life.
Besides assisting a preemies ability to breathe caffeine also has another impact on the baby according to Edward Shepherd, M.D., head of the Neonatology Section at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, reported Viamedic. Dr. Shepherd explained, “The caffeine stimulates the brains of preemies, helping them to remember to breathe, which in turn stimulates their lungs and diaphragm to strength their overall respiratory systems. The better their lungs work in the short term, the better their brain health will be in the future, preventing lifelong neurologic problems.”
Dr. Shepherd explained, “The caffeine stimulates the brains of preemies, helping them to remember to breathe, which in turn stimulates their lungs and diaphragm to strength their overall respiratory systems. The better their lungs work in the short term, the better their brain health will be in the future, preventing lifelong neurologic problems.”
The new study followed up on children who had taken part in an international Caffeine for Apnea of Prematurity study conducted in Australia. The study involved 142 children who had now reached the age of 11. The tests assessed the ability of the children to breathe out air. When the children were preemies in the NICU 74 (52 percent) of the children had been treated with caffeine, and 68 (48 percent) been given a placebo.
Children who had been given the caffeine drug treatment experience breathing expiration flow rates much better than the placebo group by around one-half of a standard deviation.
Researchers found these findings to be statistically significant.