How caffeine can aid premature infants into childhood

Premature babies often have underdeveloped lungs, requiring oxygen therapy. Studies show that when given caffeine for breathing problems, the benefits can continue into childhood

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How coffee helps premature babies breathe - Twitter photo credit

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.

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Kevin Fobbs
Kevin Fobbs began writing professionally in 1975. He has been published in the "New York Times," and has written for the "Detroit News," "Michigan Chronicle," “GOPUSA,” "Soul Source" and "Writers Digest" magazines as well as the Ann Arbor and Cleveland "Examiner," "Free Patriot," "Conservatives4 Palin" and "Positively Republican." The former daily host of The Kevin Fobbs Show on conservative News Talk WDTK - 1400 AM in Detroit, he is also a published author. His Christian children’s book, “Is There a Lion in My Kitchen,” hit bookstores in 2014. He writes for Communities Digital News, and his weekly show "Standing at Freedom’s Gate" on Community Digital News Hour tackles the latest national and international issues of freedom, faith and protecting the homeland and heartland of America as well as solutions that are needed. Fobbs also writes for Clash Daily, Renew America and BuzzPo. He covers Second Amendment, Illegal Immigration, Pro-Life, patriotism, terrorism and other domestic and foreign affairs issues. As the former 12-year Community Concerns columnist with The Detroit News, he covered community, family relations, domestic abuse, education, business, government relations, and community and business dispute resolution. Fobbs obtained a political science and journalism degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1978 and attended Wayne State University Law School. He spearheaded and managed state and national campaigns as well as several of President George W. Bush's White House initiatives in areas including Education, Social Security, Welfare Reform, and Faith-Based Initiatives.