Pharmaceutical advances in neonatal care

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It’s not uncommon for newborns to need extra care after birth due to a variety of factors and health conditions.

Fortunately, the Neonatal Pharmacotherapy Education Program, in collaboration with the team of neonatologists, at Cone Health Women’s Hospital have conducted several research projects and studies leading to the advancements in neonatal care premature infants and full-term infants who have experienced certain complications at birth receive at Women’s Hospital.

Caffeine has been shown to help reduce the risk of neurological (brain) damage in premature infants, help infants come off ventilators (breathing machines) sooner, as well as help infants who have stopped breathing (apnea).

However, different levels and forms of caffeine must be administered for each situation.

The team of pharmacists at Women’s Hospital has researched and published a report providing the range of caffeine levels that are appropriate for each condition.

This research provides the neonatal care team with a base line to help individualize the caffeine dosage each infant needs to receive the optimal benefits.

Antibiotics are started for most pre-term and full-term infants admitted to intensive care because they are at high risk for becoming infected.

At Women's Hospital the dosing of antibiotics is individualized from the first dose because several studies performed by the neonatal pharmacists and physicians at Women's Hospital showed that the dosing guidelines from dosing handbooks were not reliable at achieving blood levels needed for effective treatment, while also avoiding damage to the kidneys and ears.

Instead, blood levels of the antibiotic are drawn twice after the first dose, and the pharmacists use special calculations to make sure the most effective and safe levels are achieved to help infants get better and home to their families as quickly as possible.

Spokesperson Background:
Dr. Peter Gal is a clinical pharmacist consultant and director of the Neonatal Pharmacotherapy Education Program at Cone Health Women’s Hospital.

He also serves as the director of graduate pharmacy education at Greensboro Area Health Education Center and a professor of clinical education at University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

Dr. Gal received a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from St. John’s University in New York in 1975, and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1977.

He has published more than 150 articles and textbook chapters in medical and pharmaceutical publications.