INTRODUCTION: Until now, studies on paracetamol given intravenously have mainly been performed with the pro-drug propacetamol or with paracetamol in preterm babies above 32 weeks of gestation. Studies in these babies indicate that intravenous paracetamol is tolerated well, however studies on the efficacy of intravenous paracetamol are lacking. There are no pharmacokinetic data on the administration of multiple doses of paracetamol in preterm babies with a gestational age below 32 weeks.
CASE PRESENTATION: We present a case series of nine Caucasian preterm babies, six boys and three girls, with a mean gestational age of 28.6 weeks (range 25.9 to 31.6 weeks). Case one, a girl with a gestational age of 25 weeks and six days, presented with necrotizing enterocolitis. In the second case, a female baby with a gestational age of 26 weeks and two days presented with hematoma. In case three, a female baby with a gestation of 26 weeks and one day developed intraventricular hemorrhage. In case four, a male baby with a gestational age of 31 weeks and four days presented with pain after vacuum delivery. Case five, a female baby born after a gestation of 29 weeks and six days presented with hematoma. In case six, a male baby with a gestation of 30 weeks and six days presented with hematoma. In case seven, a male baby, born with a gestational age of 30 weeks and six days, presented with caput succedaneum and hematoma. In case eight, a male baby, born after a gestation of 28 weeks and four days, developed abdominal distention. Case nine, a female baby, born with a gestational age of 27 weeks and three days presented with hematoma. These babies were treated with intravenous paracetamol 15 mg/kg every six hours. Serum concentrations and aspartate transaminase were determined after prolonged administration. Pain scores were assessed using the Premature Infant Pain Profile.
CONCLUSION: Paracetamol serum concentrations ranged from 8 to 64 mg/L after eight to 12 doses of intravenous paracetamol. Adequate analgesia was obtained in seven babies. During paracetamol therapy the median serum level of aspartate transaminase was 20 U/L (range 12 to 186 U/L). This case series indicates that prolonged intravenous administration of paracetamol in preterm babies with a gestational age of less than 32 weeks is tolerated well in the first days after birth. However, in the absence of proper pharmacokinetic data in this age group we cannot advocate the use of paracetamol intravenously.