Positive end-expiratory pressure during resuscitation at birth in very-low birth weight infants: A randomized-controlled pilot trial
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BACKGROUND: There is limited evidence of the effect of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) during resuscitation soon after birth. Premature neonates may experience respiratory distress from surfactant insufficiency and providing PEEP after the very first breath, may improve outcomes following appropriate resuscitation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the short term respiratory outcomes after positive pressure ventilation (PPV) with PEEP in preterm infants at birth. METHODS: A prospective randomized-controlled, pilot trial was conducted. Premature neonates ≤ 32 weeks gestational age or birth weight < 1500 g were recruited. Subjects were allocated to either PEEP of 5 cm H2O (PEEP-5) or no PEEP (PEEP-0) if PPV was administered. Pre-ductal, peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2) and fraction of inspired oxygen concentration (FiO2) were monitored at 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 min after birth. FiO2 was adjusted to achieve targeted SpO2 using the 2010 neonatal resuscitation protocol guidelines. RESULTS: 56% (14/25; PEEP-0) and 50% (13/26; PEEP-5) infants received PPV. Mean gestational age was 30 (PEEP-0) vs 31 (PEEP-5) weeks. The mean [SD] birthweight (g) of PEEP-0 was significantly lower than PEEP-5 (1050.4 [262.7] vs 1218.8 [236.8], p = 0.02). Pre-ductal SpO2, FiO2 delivered at each time point, and rates of pneumothorax, surfactant administration and oxygen dependency at 36 weeks postmenstrual age or death was similar. CONCLUSION: Due to the small sample size and potential bias accrued through random allocation of higher birthweight infants to the PEEP-5 group, the results did not confirm differences in outcomes between the groups, despite evidence favoring postnatal ventilation with PEEP. A further randomized, controlled clinical trial with a larger sample size is warranted to determine the utility and safety of PEEP during the resuscitation of premature infants immediately after birth.
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