Early Caffeine and Weaning from Mechanical Ventilation in Preterm Infants: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial

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To evaluate in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial the effect of early caffeine on the age of first successful extubation in preterm infants.

Study design

Preterm infants born at 23-30 weeks of gestation requiring mechanical ventilation in the first 5 postnatal days were randomized to receive a 20 mg/kg loading dose followed by 5 mg/kg/day of caffeine or placebo until considered ready for extubation. The placebo group received a blinded loading dose of caffeine before extubation.


Infants were randomized to receive caffeine (n = 41) or placebo (n = 42). Age at first successful extubation did not differ between early caffeine (median, 24 days; IQR, 10-41 days) and control groups (median, 20 days; IQR, 9-43 days; P = .7). An interim analysis at 75% enrollment showed a trend toward higher mortality in 1 of the groups and the data safety and monitoring board recommended stopping the trial. Unblinded analysis revealed mortality did not differ significantly between the early caffeine (9 [22%]) and control groups (5 [12%]; P = .22).


Early initiation of caffeine in this group of premature infants did not reduce the age of first successful extubation. A nonsignificant trend toward higher mortality in the early caffeine group led to a cautious decision to stop the trial. These findings suggest caution with early use of caffeine in mechanically ventilated preterm infants until more efficacy and safety data become available.

Trial Registration

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01751724.

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