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Phenobarbital Increases the Theophylline Requirement of Premature Infants Being Treated for Apnea

Malektaj Yazdani, MD; Grace E. Kissling, PhD; Tai H. Tran, MD; Sheila K. Gottschalk, MD; Claudia R. Schuth, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(1):97-99. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460010097036.
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• To determine the effect of phenobarbital sodium therapy and subependymal intraventricular hemorrhage (SEp-IVH) on the theophylline requirement of premature infants suffering with apnea and seizure activity, we compared three groups of patients as follows: group 1, those with apnea of prematurity (ten patients); group 2, those with apnea and SEp-IVH (ten patients); and group 3, those with apnea, SEp-IVH, and seizure activity for which they were receiving phenobarbital therapy (nine patients). Patients in groups 1 and 2 required lower dosages and blood levels of theophylline to control their apnea than did those in group 3, who required higher dosages and blood levels of methylxanthines. Theophylline dosages and blood levels did not significantly differ between groups 1 and 2. In group 3, the theophylline requirement for control of apnea was significantly increased after initiation of phenobarbital therapy. There seems to be a direct correlation between the increased requirement for theophylline and concomitant phenobarbital administration. The data suggest that phenobarbital increases theophylline requirement when treating neonatal apnea.

(AJDC 1987;141:97-99)

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