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Evidence on Adrenaline Use in Resuscitation and Its Relevance to Newborn Infants: A Non-Systematic R

CSAR reviewed the currently available evidence about Epinephrine use during neonatal resuscitation: the review is available for free at:


Aim: Guidelines for newborn resuscitation state that if the heart rate does not increase despite adequate ventilation and chest compressions, adrenaline administration should be considered. However, controversy exists around the safety and effectiveness of adrenaline in newborn resuscitation. The aim of this review was to summarise a selection of the current knowledge about adrenaline during resuscitation and evaluate its relevance to newborn infants.

Methods: A search in PubMed, Embase, and Google Scholar until September 1, 2015, using search terms including adrenaline/epinephrine, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, death, severe brain injury, necrotizing enterocolitis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and adrenaline versus vasopressin/placebo.

Results: Adult data indicate that adrenaline improves the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) but not survival to hospital discharge. Newborn animal studies reported that adrenaline might be needed to achieve ROSC. Intravenous administration (10-30 μg/kg) is recommended; however, if there is no intravenous access, a higher endotracheal dose (50-100 μg/kg) is needed. The safety and effectiveness of intraosseous adrenaline remain undetermined. Early and frequent dosing does not seem to be beneficial. In fact, negative hemodynamic effects have been observed, especially with doses ≥30 μg/kg intravenously. Little is known about adrenaline in birth asphyxia and in preterm infants, but observations indicate that hemodynamics and neurological outcomes may be impaired by adrenaline administration in these conditions. However, a causal relationship between adrenaline administration and outcomes cannot be established from the few available retrospective studies. Alternative vasoconstrictors have been investigated, but the evidence is scarce.

Conclusion: More research is needed on the benefits and risks of adrenaline in asphyxia-induced bradycardia or cardiac arrest during perinatal transition.

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