Objective Early continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may reduce lung injury in preterm infants.
Patients and methods Spontaneously breathing preterm infants were randomised immediately after birth to nasal CPAP or intubation, surfactant treatment and mechanical ventilation. Pulmonary function tests approximately 8 weeks post-term determined tidal breathing parameters, respiratory mechanics and functional residual capacity (FRC).
Results Seventeen infants received CPAP and 22 mechanical ventilation. Infants with early CPAP had less mechanical ventilation (4 vs 7.5 days; p=0.004) and less total respiratory support (30 vs 47 days; p=0.017). Post-term the CPAP group had lower respiratory rate (41 vs 48/min; p=0.007), lower minute ventilation (223 vs 265 ml/min/kg; p=0.009), better respiratory compliance (0.99 vs 0.82 ml/cm H2O/kg; p=0.008) and improved elastic work of breathing (p=0.004). No differences in FRC were found.
Conclusions Early CPAP is feasible, shortens the duration of respiratory support and results in improved lung mechanics and decreased work of breathing.
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Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University Ethics Committee, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.