Saliva as a Valid Alternative to Serum in Monitoring Intravenous Caffeine Treatment for Apnea of Prematurity

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SummaryCaffeine is a potentially useful alternative to theophylline for the treatment and prevention of apnea of prematurity because of its lower toxicity and longer terminal half-life. Monitoring of salivary caffeine concentrations is less invasive than blood sampling, especially in very sick premature neonates. Caffeine citrate—3 mg/kg, 15 mg/kg, or 30 mg/kg—was administered once daily for 7 days in a randomized, parallel design to 59 newborn, premature infants with an initial loading dose of twice the maintenance dose. Serum and saliva samples (131 pairs) were collected and assayed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) for caffeine content. Measurable caffeine concentrations in serum ranged from 0.28 to 93.3 mg/L and in saliva from 0.35 to 91.5 mg/L. The mean ratio of the saliva-to-serum concentrations was 0.924. There was no significant difference in precision between the serum and salivary data. The mean serum caffeine concentration was 29.9 mg/L, and the mean salivary concentration was 27.7 mg/L, indicating a small negative bias for saliva versus serum monitoring. Salivary caffeine concentration monitoring is a satisfactory alternative to blood sampling across a wide range of caffeine doses used to treat apnea.

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