Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Uses Caffeine And Viagra To Help Premature Infants

Ohio’s infant mortality rate is dismal, near the bottom among all states. As the Ohio Department of Health this week holds a summit to focus attention on the problem, a children’s hospital in Central Ohio has turned to some adult medications to keep more premature infants alive.

Pediatrician Edward Shepherd says the smallest premature infant treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital weighed about 12 ounces, about the size of a can of soda. Care of such small infants is unique since doctors must help the baby develop its lungs, heart, liver, and other organs outside the womb. But, Doctor Shepherd says researchers have found some surprising benefits from a couple of adult medications that can keep babies alive until they can breathe on their own. The medications? caffeine and Sildenafil.

“Of course it’s known best as Viagra. But, it turns out it also relaxes the vessels in the lungs. And so it’s a very, very potent treatment for some of our most complicated babies, babies who aren’t able to come off the ventilator,” says Shepherd

Doctor Shepherd says keeping premature babies alive helps reduce Ohio’s Infant Mortality Rate. The Department of Health is looking for other life-saving measures during a statewide infant mortality summit in Columbus on Thursday.