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Randomised trial of erythromycin on the development of chronic lung disease in preterm infants


AIMS To determine if erythromycin given from birth reduces the inflammatory response and the incidence and severity of chronic lung disease.

METHODS Seventy five infants less than 30 weeks of gestation and ventilated from birth for lung disease were randomly assigned to receive erythromycin intravenously for 7 days or to no treatment. Ureaplasma urealyticum was detected in tracheal secretions by culture and polymerase chain reaction. Differential cell counts were obtained from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid collected daily for 5 days and concentrations of the cytokines interluekins IL-1β and IL-8, and tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α) were measured. Chronic lung disease (CLD) was defined as oxygen dependency at 36 weeks of gestation.

RESULTS Nine infants (13%) were positive forU urealyticum. The inflammatory cytokines in the lungs increased over the first 5 days of life in all babies, but no association was found between their concentrations and the development of CLD. Those treated with erythromycin showed no significant differences from the non- treated group in the differential cell counts or concentrations of the cytokines. The two groups had a similar incidence of CLD. Babies infected with U urealyticum did not have a more pronounced cytokine response than those without infection. Chorioamnionitis was associated with significantly higher concentrations of IL-1β and IL-8 on admission: these babies had less severe acute lung disease and developed significantly less CLD.

CONCLUSIONS U urealyticum in the trachea was not associated with an increased inflammatory response in preterm infants. Erythromycin did not reduce the incidence or severity of CLD.

  • chronic lung disease
  • Ureaplasma urealyticum
  • erythromycin
  • cytokines

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