Background: To assess the potential impact of azithromycin treatment in the first week following birth on 2-year outcomes in preterm infants with and without Ureaplasma respiratory colonization who participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized controlled trial.
Methods: Respiratory morbidity was assessed at NICU discharge and at 6, 12, and 22-26 months corrected age using pulmonary questionnaires. Comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessments were completed between 22 and 26 months corrected age. The primary and secondary composite outcomes were death or severe respiratory morbidity and death or moderate-severe neurodevelopmental impairment, respectively, at 22-26 months corrected age.
Results: One hundred and twenty-one randomized participants (azithromycin, N = 60; placebo, N = 61) were included in the intent-to-treat analysis. There were no significant differences in death or serious respiratory morbidity (34.8 vs 30.4%, p = 0.67) or death or moderate-severe neurodevelopmental impairment (47 vs 33%, p = 0.11) between the azithromycin and placebo groups. Among all trial participants, tracheal aspirate Ureaplasma-positive infants experienced a higher frequency of death or serious respiratory morbidity at 22-26 months corrected age (58%) than tracheal aspirate Ureaplasma-negative infants (34%) or non-intubated infants (21%) (p = 0.028).
Conclusions: We did not observe strong evidence of a difference in long-term pulmonary and neurodevelopment outcomes in preterm infants treated with azithromycin in the first week of life compared to placebo.
Impact: No strong evidence of a difference in long-term pulmonary and neurodevelopment outcomes was identified at 22-26 months corrected age in infants treated with azithromycin in the first week of life compared to placebo. The RCT is the first study of 2-year pulmonary and neurodevelopmental outcomes of azithromycin treatment in ELGANs. Provides evidence that ELGANs with lower respiratory tract Ureaplasma have the most frequent serious respiratory morbidity in the first 2 years of life, suggesting that a Phase III trial of azithromycin to prevent BPD targeting this population is warranted.