RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Use of barbiturate therapy in severe perinatal asphyxia: a randomized controlled trial.

Journal of Pediatrics 1986 November
The possible cerebral sparing effect of thiopental was evaluated in 32 severely asphyxiated neonates randomly assigned to either a thiopental treatment or control group. All infants had neurologic manifestations of asphyxia and required assisted ventilation. Thiopental was begun at a mean age of 2.3 hours and was given as a constant infusion that delivered 30 mg/kg over 2 hours. Treatment was continued at a lower dose for 24 hours. Seizure activity occurred in 76% of infants given thiopental and 73% of control infants at a mean age of 1.5 and 2.5 hours, respectively. Although initial arterial blood pressure was similar in both groups, hypotension occurred in 88% of treated and 60% of control infants. The amount of blood pressure support required was significantly greater (P less than 0.005) in the thiopental treatment group. Three infants died in the control group, and five in the treatment group. Developmental assessment was performed at a minimum of 12 months of age in 22 infants. There were no significant differences in neurologic, cognitive, or motor outcome between groups. Deteriorating performance over time was a consistent trend in both groups. These findings indicate that treatment of severe perinatal asphyxia with thiopental does not appear to have a cerebral sparing effect and may be associated with significant arterial hypotension.

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