Objectives: To evaluate cerebral tissue oxygenation (cTOI) and cerebral perfusion in preterm infants in supine vs prone positions.
Study design: Sixty preterm infants, born before 32 weeks of gestation, were enrolled; 30 had bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD, defined as the need for respiratory support and/or supplemental oxygen at 36 weeks of postmenstrual age). Cerebral perfusion, cTOI, and polysomnography were measured in both the supine and prone position with the initial position being randomized. Infants with a major intraventricular hemorrhage or major congenital abnormality were excluded.
Results: Cerebral perfusion was unaffected by position or BPD status. In the BPD group, the mean cTOI was higher in the prone position compared with the supine position by a difference of 3.27% (P = .03; 95% CI 6.28-0.25) with no difference seen in the no-BPD group. For the BPD group, the burden of cerebral hypoxemia (cumulative time spent with cTOI <55%) was significantly lower in the prone position (23%) compared with the supine position (29%) (P < .001). In those without BPD, position had no effect on cTOI.
Conclusions: In preterm infants with BPD, the prone position improved cerebral oxygenation and reduced cerebral hypoxemia. These findings may have implications for positioning practices. Further research will establish the impact of position on short- and long-term developmental outcomes.