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Efficacy and safety of bubble CPAP in neonatal care in low and middle income countries: a systematic review
  1. Simone Martin1,
  2. Trevor Duke2,
  3. Peter Davis3,4
  1. 1Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Department of Paediatrics, Centre for International Child Health, University of Melbourne MCRI, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Department of Neonatal Medicine, Royal Women's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Simone Martin, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Royal Children's Hospital, 50 Flemington Rd, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia; simone.langford{at}


Introduction Forty per cent of global child deaths occur in the neonatal period. Low and middle income countries need effective and simple methods to improve hospital-based neonatal care. Bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may have a role in improving the quality of respiratory support in hospitals in low and middle income countries.

Aim To examine the evidence for the efficacy and safety of bubble CPAP in neonates with respiratory distress in low and middle income settings.

Method A systematic search (1946–March 2014) was performed of Pubmed, Ovid MEDLINE, Web of Science, Google Scholar and the references of relevant articles. Articles meeting inclusion criteria (CPAP for respiratory distress in infants <28 days of age in hospitals in low and middle income countries) were assessed using Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation and Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale methodology. Outcomes included need for mechanical ventilation, complications and mortality.

Results In three studies, the initial use of bubble CPAP compared with oxygen therapy, followed by mechanical ventilation if required, reduced the need for mechanical ventilation by 30%–50%. In another three trials comparing bubble CPAP with ventilator CPAP, mortality and complication rates were similar, while meta-analysis of CPAP failure in these same trials showed a lower failure rate in the bubble CPAP groups (p <0.003).

Conclusions There is evidence that bubble CPAP is safe and reduces the need for mechanical ventilation. Further research into the efficacy of bubble CPAP in low-income and middle-income countries is needed.

  • Neonatology
  • Respiratory

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