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Prophylactic nasal continuous positive airways pressure in newborns of 28–31 weeks gestation: multicentre randomised controlled clinical trial
  1. F Sandri1,
  2. G Ancora1,
  3. A Lanzoni1,
  4. P Tagliabue2,
  5. M Colnaghi3,
  6. M L Ventura2,
  7. M Rinaldi4,
  8. I Mondello5,
  9. P Gancia6,
  10. G P Salvioli1,
  11. M Orzalesi7,
  12. F Mosca3,
  13. on behalf of the Pneumology Study Group of the Italian Society of Neonatology
  1. 1Institute of Neonatology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  2. 2Division of Neonatology, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy
  3. 3Department of Neonatology, Clinica Mangiagalli, ICP, Milano, Italy
  4. 4Division of Neonatology, Ospedali Riuniti, Foggia, Italy
  5. 5Division of Neonatology, Bianchi Melacrino Morelli Hospital, Reggio Calabria, Italy
  6. 6Division of Neonatology, Policlinico S Matteo, Pavia, Italy
  7. 7Department of Medical and Surgical Neonatology, Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Sandri
    Istituto di Neonatologia, Via Massarenti, 11 40138 Bologna, Italy;


Background: The role of nasal continuous positive airways pressure (nCPAP) in the management of respiratory distress syndrome in preterm infants is not completely defined.

Objective: To evaluate the benefits and risks of prophylactic nCPAP in infants of 28–31 weeks gestation.

Design: Multicentre randomised controlled clinical trial.

Setting: Seventeen Italian neonatal intensive care units.

Patients: A total of 230 newborns of 28–31 weeks gestation, not intubated in the delivery room and without major malformations, were randomly assigned to prophylactic or rescue nCPAP.

Interventions: Prophylactic nCPAP was started within 30 minutes of birth, irrespective of oxygen requirement and clinical status. Rescue nCPAP was started when Fio2 requirement was > 0.4, for more than 30 minutes, to maintain transcutaneous oxygen saturation between 93% and 96%. Exogenous surfactant was given when Fio2 requirement was > 0.4 in nCPAP in the presence of radiological signs of respiratory distress syndrome.

Main outcome measures: Primary end point: need for exogenous surfactant. Secondary end points: need for mechanical ventilation and incidence of air leaks.

Results: Surfactant was needed by 22.6% in the prophylaxis group and 21.7% in the rescue group. Mechanical ventilation was required by 12.2% in both the prophylaxis and rescue group. The incidence of air leaks was 2.6% in both groups. More than 80% of both groups had received prenatal steroids.

Conclusions: In newborns of 28–31 weeks gestation, there is no greater benefit in giving prophylactic nCPAP than in starting nCPAP when the oxygen requirement increases to a Fio2 > 0.4.

  • CPAP, continuous positive airways pressure
  • Fio2, fraction of inspired oxygen
  • MV, mechanical ventilation
  • nCPAP, nasal continuous positive airways pressure
  • RDS, respiratory distress syndrome
  • Spo2, transcutaneous oxygen saturation
  • nasal continuous positive airways pressure
  • prophylaxis
  • surfactant
  • respiratory distress syndrome
  • preterm newborn

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