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High dose caffeine citrate for extubation of preterm infants: a randomised controlled trial
  1. P Steer1,
  2. V Flenady1,
  3. A Shearman1,
  4. B Charles2,
  5. P H Gray1,
  6. D Henderson-Smart3,
  7. G Bury4,
  8. S Fraser5,
  9. J Hegarty1,
  10. Y Rogers1,
  11. S Reid3,
  12. L Horton4,
  13. M Charlton4,
  14. R Jacklin5,
  15. A Walsh5,
  16. (The Caffeine Collaborative Study Group Steering Group)
  1. 1Department of Neonatology and Centre for Clinical Studies, University of Queensland, Mater Health Services, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Australian Centre for Paediatric Pharmacokinetics, School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland
  3. 3Neonatal Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Centre for Perinatal Health Services Research, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart, Tasmania. Australia
  5. 5Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
    Vicki Flenady
    Centre for Clinical Studies, Mater Health Services, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4101;


Objective: To compare two dosing regimens for caffeine citrate in the periextubation period for neonates born at less than 30 weeks gestation in terms of successful extubation and adverse effects.

Design: A multicentre, randomised, double blind, clinical trial.

Setting: Four tertiary neonatal units within Australia.

Patients: Infants born less than 30 weeks gestation ventilated for more than 48 hours.

Interventions: Two dosing regimens of caffeine citrate (20 v 5 mg/kg/day) for periextubation management. Treatment started 24 hours before a planned extubation or within six hours of an unplanned extubation.

Main outcome measure: Failure to extubate within 48 hours of caffeine loading or reintubation and ventilation or doxapram within seven days of caffeine loading.

Results: A total of 234 neonates were enrolled. A significant reduction in failure to extubate was shown for the 20 mg/kg/day dosing group (15.0% v 29.8%; relative risk 0.51; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.31 to 0.85; number needed to treat 7 (95% CI 4 to 24)). A significant difference in duration of mechanical ventilation was shown for infants of less than 28 weeks gestation receiving the high dose of caffeine (mean (SD) days 14.4 (11.1) v 22.1 (17.1); p  =  0.01). No difference in adverse effects was detected in terms of mortality, major neonatal morbidity, death, or severe disability or general quotient at 12 months.

Conclusions: This trial shows short term benefits for a 20 mg/kg/day dosing regimen of caffeine citrate for neonates born at less than 30 weeks gestation in the periextubation period, without evidence of harm in the first year of life.

  • caffeine
  • preterm
  • apnoea
  • extubation

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