JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Dopamine for prevention of morbidity and mortality in term newborn infants with suspected perinatal asphyxia

R Hunt, D Osborn
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, (3): CD003484
12137696

BACKGROUND: Perinatal asphyxia remains an important condition with significant mortality and long-term morbidity. Multisystem involvement including hypotension and low cardiac output is common in infants with perinatal asphyxia. Dopamine is commonly used for infants with hypotension of any etiology, with the goal of improving cardiac output and preventing its detrimental consequences.

OBJECTIVES: To determine if dopamine, compared to placebo, no treatment, volume or another inotrope reduces morbidity and mortality in term newborn infants with suspected perinatal asphyxia.

SEARCH STRATEGY: The standard search strategy of the Neonatal Review Group was used. Searches were conducted of the Oxford Database of Perinatal Trials, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2002), MEDLINE (1966 to March 2002), previous reviews including cross references, abstracts and conference proceedings (Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand 1998-2002 and Pediatric Academic Societies meetings 1998-2001).

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials comparing dopamine with placebo, no treatment, other inotropic agents, or volume in infants greater than 36 weeks gestation. Perinatal asphyxia could be suspected on the basis of a cord blood pH < 7.0, cord blood base excess < -16 mEq/L or 5 minute Apgar score < 6.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Standard methods of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group with use of relative risk (RR), risk difference (RD) and weighted mean difference (WMD). The fixed effects model using RevMan 4.1 was used for meta-analysis. Data from individual studies were only eligible for inclusion if at least 75% of participants were followed up.

MAIN RESULTS: Only one study (DiSessa 1981) was eligible. This study compared low dose dopamine at 2.5 mcg/kg/min with placebo (dextrose in water). This study enrolled 14 term infants with a 5 minute Apgar <6 and a systolic BP >=50 mmHg at a mean of 10 hours age. Seven infants only were randomised to treatment with dopamine and seven to receive placebo. No significant differences between these two groups were found for mortality or long term neurodevelopmental outcome. Length of hospitalisation was not significantly different between the two groups. No study was found that examined the effect of dopamine in infants with evidence of cardiovascular compromise, nor were any studies identified in which dopamine was compared to other inotropic agents for term infants with suspected asphyxia.

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: There is currently insufficient evidence from randomised controlled trials that the use of dopamine in term infants with suspected perinatal asphyxia improves mortality or long-term neurodevelopmental outcome. The question of whether dopamine improves outcome for term infants with suspected perinatal asphyxia has not been answered. Further research is required to determine whether or not the use of dopamine improves mortality and long-term morbidity for these infants and if so, issues such as which infants, at what dose and with what co-interventions should be addressed.

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