Antifungal agents in neonates: issues and recommendations

Benito Almirante, Dolors Rodríguez
Paediatric Drugs 2007, 9 (5): 311-21
Fungal infections are responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality in the neonatal period, particularly among premature neonates. Four classes of antifungal agents are commonly used in the treatment of fungal infections in pediatric patients: polyene macrolides, fluorinated pyrimidines, triazoles, and echinocandins. Due to the paucity of pediatric data, many recommendations for the use of antifungal agents in this population are derived from the experience in adults. The purpose of this article was to review the published data on fungal infections and antifungal agents, with a focus on neonatal patients, and to provide an overview of the differences in antifungal pharmacology in neonates compared with adults. Pharmacokinetic data suggest dosing differences in children versus adult patients with some antifungals, but not all agents have been fully evaluated. The available pharmacokinetic data on the amphotericin B deoxycholate formulation in neonates exhibit considerable variability; nevertheless, the dosage regimen suggested in the neonatal population is similar to that used in adults. More pharmacokinetic information is available on the liposomal and lipid complex preparations of amphotericin B and fluconazole, and it supports their use in neonates; however, the optimal dosage and duration of therapy is difficult to establish. All amphotericin-B formulations, frequently used in combination with flucytosine, are useful for treating disseminated fungal infections and Candida meningitis in neonates. Fluconazole, with potent in vitro activity against Cryptococcus neoformans and almost all Candida spp., has been used in neonates with invasive candidiasis at dosages of 6 mg/kg/day, and for antifungal prophylaxis in high-risk neonates. There are limited data on itraconazole, voriconazole, and posaconazole use in neonates. Caspofungin, which is active against Candida spp. and Aspergillus spp., requires higher doses in children relative to adults, and dosing is best accomplished based on body surface area. Micafungin shows a clear trend toward lower levels in the smallest patients. There are no data on the use of other new antifungal drugs (ravuconazole and anidulafungin) in neonates. In summary, the initial data suggest dosage differences in neonates for some antifungal agents, although the newer agents have not been fully tested for optimal administration in these patients.


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