Safety of Morphine in Nonintubated Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To determine the safety of morphine for procedural pain management in nonintubated infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. METHODS: Retrospective cohort study comparing nonintubated infants undergoing central line placement who received morphine during the procedure with a sex and age-matched group who did not receive morphine. The incidence of clinically significant respiratory depression and hypotension, defined as requiring intervention (ie, bag/mask ventilation, increased ventilatory support, and naloxone reversal for respiratory depression and saline volume expansion and inotropes for hypotension), were compared between groups using chi test. RESULTS: There were no differences (P>0.05) between morphine (N=43) and no morphine (N=43) groups in gestational age [34.2 (4.6) vs. 34.6 (3.8) wk; P=0.63], postnatal age [13.7 (22.6) vs. 12.3 (15) wk; P=0.73], and weight [2.3 kg (0.9) for both groups]. Five (11.6%) morphine-treated infants experienced respiratory depression compared with none (0%) in the no morphine group (P=0.02); removal of 2 overdosed infants in the morphine group reduced the incidence to 7.3%, which was not significantly different from 0% in the no morphine group (P=0.07). There were no cases of hypotension. CONCLUSIONS: Morphine administration was associated with respiratory depression but not hypotension when administered to nonintubated infants undergoing central line placement. Morphine should be used with caution in this population.


  • Taddio, Anna
  • Crosdale, Blondel
  • Hogan, Mary-Ellen
  • El Sayed, Manal
  • Lee, Kyong-Soon
  • Moore, Aideen M
  • Shah, Vibhuti

publication date

  • June 2009