A single dose of synthetic surfactant was administered prophylactically to premature neonates with birth weights between 700 and 1100 gm. The effects of this treatment on neurodevelopmental, neurologic, and ophthalmologic outcomes, impairments, and general health status were examined during a follow-up evaluation at 1-year adjusted age. The study was a multicenter, parallel, randomized, double-blind comparison of 446 infants who received either air placebo ( n = 222) or synthetic surfactant ( n = 224). Follow-up evaluations were completed for 82% of surviving infants in both treatment groups. Neurodevelopmental outcome and growth were equivalent in the infants treated with synthetic surfactant and in the infants given air placebo. Impairments occurred in 38% of the infants treated with air placebo compared with 31% of those given synthetic surfactant; the difference was not statistically significant (relative risk 0.809, 95% confidence interval 0.585, 1.119). The incidence of asthma was significantly higher in the group of infants given air placebo (4% vs 10% for surfactant and air placebo, respectively, relative risk 0.391, 95% confidence intervals 0.157, 0.972). Other outcomes, including retinopathy of prematurity, hospital readmissions, surgery, and evidence of chronic lung disease, were not different. Administration of a single prophylactic dose of synthetic surfactant increases survival in infants with birth weights between 700 and 1100 gm without increasing the number or proportion of impaired survivors. (J P EDIATR 1995;126:S20-5).
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