A pilot randomized trial of high-dose caffeine therapy in preterm infants

Christopher McPherson, Jeffrey J. Neil, Tiong Han Tjoeng, Roberta Pineda, Terrie E. Inder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background:Standard-dose caffeine improves white matter microstructural development assessed by diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We hypothesized that early high-dose caffeine would result in further improvement in white matter microstructural development.Methods:Seventy-four preterm infants (≤30 wk gestational age) were randomly assigned to either a high (80 mg/kg i.v.) or standard (20 mg/kg i.v.) loading dose of caffeine citrate in the first 24 h of life. MRI and neurobehavioral testing were undertaken at term equivalent age. Infants returned at 2 y of age for developmental testing.Results:Clinical characteristics were similar between groups, with the exception of higher maternal age in the high-dose caffeine group. There was an increased incidence of cerebellar hemorrhage in infants randomized to high-dose caffeine (36 vs. 10%, P = 0.03). Infants in the high-dose caffeine group also demonstrated more hypertonicity (P = 0.02) and more deviant neurologic signs (P = 0.04) at term equivalent age. Diffusion measures at term equivalent age and developmental outcomes at 2 y of age did not differ between groups.Conclusion:Preterm infants randomized to early high-dose caffeine had a higher incidence of cerebellar injury with subsequent alterations in early motor performance. The results of this pilot trial discourage a larger randomized controlled trial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-204
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 21 2015


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