Dr. Abha Lodha with Avril Strakan and her daughter Anna at the Alberta Children's Hospital on December 11, 2018
A new study, led by researchers at the University of Calgary, found long-term benefits from giving caffeine therapy during the first two days of premature babies born under 29 weeks of age.
The study included data from 26 intensive care units in Canada and was published in Pediatrics. The study found that early caffeine treatment had no long-term negative effects on neuroproduction and was associated with better cognitive performance and reduced chance of cerebral palsy and hearing impairment.
Dr. Abhay Lodha, a neonatologist from Alberta Health Services and an associate professor at the Cumming Medical Laboratory at Calgary University, said the study further strengthens the argument for caffeine delivery to pre-school infants.
"I think caffeine should be given at an early stage of the BID when you have preterm babies born under the age of 29," said Lodja in an interview with Alberta Children's Hospital on Tuesday.
"We should be more actively giving caffeine on Day 1 or Day 2 of life. The earlier you give, the better the effect – both immediate and long-term results. "
Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the intensive care unit for newborns (or NICU) after antibiotics, Loja said. Usually, babies receive therapy until they have reached 34 or 35 weeks and can not maintain their breathing.
"Their respiratory centers are immature in the brain, so they forget to breathe," said Lodha. "That's why we start caffeine at first."
The 2014 Loddy survey showed the beginning of caffeine therapy within two days of birth, shortened the time it takes for babies to use fans, and reduced the risk of developing a form of chronic lung disease called bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
A follow-up study was conducted to understand how caffeinated therapies affect brain development. A team of researchers from the Universities of British Columbia, Montreal, Toronto, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto studied follow-ups from 18 months to 24 months and compared patients receiving caffeine within two days of birth with these who started treatment after these first two days.
Sue MacArchyuk, a registered psychologist with AHS, said psychologists usually see premature babies for follow-up when they are about 21 months old.
"We do them through various game-based tasks to understand how they evolve in different areas, mostly cognitive or problem solving, some language things, and some engines, depending on what other therapists work with them in that day, "she said.
Avril's daughter, Strachan, Anna, was born 27 weeks and six days and was in NIC for 80 days. The baby gets caffeine to help her breathe and strengthen her pulmonary function.
"You never know how they'll get started when they first come out, but she really did it from the very beginning," Stratton said.
"You have to leave them every day, which is the worst part, but it was just like a breakthrough in our history and we are ready to work now."
Two years ago, Anna participated in dance lessons, gymnastics lessons and swimming.
"I think everything we can give them a good start is very important," said Strachan for the study of caffeine therapy.
"It's just one of the many things that can help them grow and become stronger and I think all we can do for them is great."