University of Alberta, Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Alberta, Canada
Mount Sinai Hospital, Maternal-Infant Care Research Centre, Ontario, Canada
Department of Pediatrics, University of Saskatchewan, Division of Neonatology, SK, Canada
| [d] Canadian Neonatal NetworkTM, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address for correspondence: Dr Jennifer M Toye and Koravangattu Sankaran, 3A3, WMC, 8440-112 Street, Edmonton,
Alberta, Canada. Tel.: +1 780 407 1305; Fax: +1 780 407 3030; E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org (J.M. Toye) and email@example.com (K. Sankaran).
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Mechanical ventilation (MV) causes discomfort but whether it causes pain remains controversial. Around the world neonatal intensive care units (NICU) often utilize narcotics and/or sedatives during MV of vulnerable infants yet the association with adverse neonatal outcomes has not been adequately addressed. OBJECTIVE: Test for associations between the use of narcotics/sedatives during MV and mortality/morbidity in preterm infants in a large infant cohort in Canada. DESIGN/METHODS: Preterm infants born <35 weeks gestational age (GA) requiring MV for >24 hrs were identified retrospectively from the Canadian Neonatal Network database, 2010–12. Infants were categorized according to whether they received narcotics/sedatives for greater than 24 hours concurrently with MV. Infants were excluded if moribund on admission, had major congenital anomalies, diagnoses where narcotic administration is routine and suspected seizures. Multivariable logistic and linear regression analysis tested for association of narcotics/sedatives use during MV with mortality/morbidity (nosocomial infections, BPD, ROP, IVH) and length of MV. RESULTS: After exclusions the cohort included 2672 infants; 467(17%) exposed only to narcotics 101(4%) only to sedatives and 299(11%) to both. All models were adjusted for GA, gender, small for GA, SNAP-II score >20, multiple births, delivery mode, outborn, PDA status, MV type, use of high flow, muscle relaxant use, indwelling lines, caffeine and surfactant therapy. The composite mortality/morbidity, and MV days were significantly higher for MV infants exposed to narcotics, sedatives or both compared to infants not exposed. CONCLUSION: Mounting evidence of the adverse short and long-term impacts of narcotics/sedatives during MV supports the need for further work in alternative therapies.