Low birth weight infants who underwent neonatal caffeine therapy for apnea of prematurity had improved visuomotor, visuoperceptual and visuospatial abilities at age 11, according to the results of a study published in Pediatrics.

Thirteen academic hospitals in Canada, Australia, Great Britain and Sweden participated in this arm of an 11-year follow-up to the original double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Researchers measured general intelligence, attention, executive function, visuomotor integration and perception and behavior in up to 870 children. Investigators used regression models to assess the effects of caffeine therapy.

Neurobehavioral outcomes were generally similar for both the caffeine and placebo group; however, the caffeine group performed better than placebo in fine motor coordination, visuomotor integration, visual perception and visuospatial organization.

General intelligence, attention and behavior were not adversely affected by caffeine, which highlights the long-term safety of caffeine therapy for apnea of prematurity in very low birth weight neonates, the researchers concluded.

Mürner-Lavanchy IM, Doyle, LW, Schmidt B, et al. Neurobehavioral outcomes eleven years after neonatal caffeine therapy for apnea of prematurity. Pediatrics. April 11, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].