Early nasal continuous positive airway pressure and necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants

Hany Aly, An N. Massaro, Tarek A. Hammad, Sherry Narang, Jonah Essers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The use of early nasal continuous positive airway pressure (ENCPAP) as the mode of initial respiratory support for very low birth weight (VLBW) infants has been increasing. The impact of CPAP and oxygen on gut mucosa and perfusion in premature infants is not known. The relation between ENCPAP and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) has not been adequately addressed. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if the use of an individualized respiratory management strategy encouraging the use of ENCPAP is associated with an increased risk of NEC, and to determine risk factors for NEC in premature infants supported by CPAP. METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted on VLBW infants (birth weight < 1500 g) managed at 2 institutions that use an ENCPAP respiratory management strategy for premature infants. Data on the use of oxygen and mode of ventilatory support were collected during the first 3 days of life. Diagnosis of NEC was used as the dependent variable in a logistic regression model. Birth weight, gender, prenatal steroid use, mode of respiratory support (CPAP versus ventilator) and fraction of inspired oxygen, umbilical artery catheter placement, partial pressure of oxygen, patent ductus arteriosus, early sepsis, hospital, and delivery room management (ENCPAP versus initial intubation) were controlled for in the model. RESULTS: Data on 343 premature infants were collected for this study. Mean birth weight was 999 ± 289 g and gestational age was 28 ± 2.6 weeks. The majority of patients were managed with ENCPAP, with only 13% of patients intubated in the delivery room. The overall incidence of NEC was 7% (n = 24). The exposure to ENCPAP did not increase the risk for NEC compared with the use of a ventilator. CONCLUSIONS. The risk of NEC in VLBW premature infants was not increased by the use of ENCPAP. Initial respiratory support with ENCPAP seems to be a safe alternative to routine intubation and mechanical ventilation in premature infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-210
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • CPAP
  • Delivery room
  • NEC
  • Preterm
  • VLBW infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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