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Erythromycin as a prokinetic agent in preterm infants.

Author(s): Costalos C, Gounaris A, Varhalama E, Kokori F, Alexiou N, Kolovou E

Affiliation(s): Department of Neonatal Medicine, Piraeus General Hospital, Nikea, Piraeus, Greece.

Publication date & source: 2002-01, J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr., 34(1):23-5.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND: The macrolide antibiotic erythromycin is a prokinetic agent that stimulates gastrointestinal motility. The aim of the study was to determine the effect of erythromycin on the gastrointestinal motility of preterm infants. METHODS: Erythromycin 10 mg/kg, 8 hourly or a placebo, was given orally for 7 days in a double-blind randomized, crossover study of 20 preterm infants with a median gestational age of 32 weeks (range, 26-34 weeks). Antral contractility was determined by using ultrasonography to measure the decrease in the gastric antral cross-sectional area after a feed. The whole gut transit time was assessed by timing the transit of carmine red through the gut. RESULTS: Antral contractility lasted for a shorter period of time during erythromycin treatment than during placebo treatment (mean [standard deviation], 31 minutes [9.9 minutes] vs. 70 minutes [13 minutes]; P < 0.01). Whole gut transit time was also shorter during erythromycin treatment (mean, 23.1 hours [12.9 hours] vs. 49.3 hours [29 hours]; P < 0.01). All infants tolerated the drug well. CONCLUSIONS: Oral erythromycin in food-intolerant preterm infants enhances both antral contractility and whole gut transit time.

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