Pediatric Apnea Medication

Updated: Jul 18, 2021
  • Author: Joshua A Rocker, MD; Chief Editor: Kirsten A Bechtel, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

Caffeine citrate is currently the medication used in NICUs to treat apnea of prematurity (AOP). The specific mechanism is not known, but caffeine citrate has been shown to act as a respiratory stimulant and allow infants to overcome the developmental immaturity that causes apnea or periodic breathing. [36]

Unfortunately, patients with AOP have demonstrated various responses. A recent study has identified genetic markers (adenosine receptor gene polymorphisms) that may be able to predict an individual’s response to caffeine. [37]

A study by Alansari et al aimed to determine the effectiveness of caffeine used for the treatment of apnea associated with bronchiolitis. It consisted of 90 infants diagnosed with viral bronchiolitis associated with apnea. It was found that unlike in AOP, a single dose of caffeine citrate did not significantly reduce apnea episodes associated with bronchiolitis. [38]