Objective: To evaluate the association of early continuous infusions of opioids and/or midazolam with survival and sensorimotor outcomes at age 2 years in ventilated very premature infants.
Study design: This national observational study included premature infants born before 32 weeks of gestation intubated within 1 hour after birth and still intubated at 24 hours from the French EPIPAGE 2 cohort. Bolus only-treated infants were excluded. Treated infants received continuous opioid and/or midazolam infusion started before 7 days of life and before the first extubation. Naive infants did not receive these treatments before the first extubation, or received them after the first week of life, or never received them. This study compared treated (n=450) vs naive (n=472) infants by using inverse probability of treatment weighting after multiple imputation in chained equations. The primary outcomes were survival and survival without moderate or severe neuromotor or sensory impairment at age 2.
Results: Survival at age 2 was significantly higher in the treated group (92.5% vs 87.9%, risk difference [RD] 4.7%; 95%CI, 0.3 to 9.1; P=.037), but treated and naive infants did not significantly differ for survival without moderate or severe neuromotor or sensory impairment (86.6% vs 81.3%, RD 5.3%; 95%CI -0.3 to 11.0; P=.063). These results were confirmed by sensitivity analyses using 5 alternative models.
Conclusion: Continuous opioid and/or midazolam infusions in very premature infants during initial mechanical ventilation that continued past 24 hours of life were associated with improved survival without any difference in moderate or severe sensorimotor impairments at age 2 years.