Pulmonary edema has been demonstrated in the early stages of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants. To evaluate whether early furosemide therapy (0 to 8 hours after birth) would affect the electrolyte balance, pulmonary status, and outcome, 57 infants (≤2000 gm) with respiratory distress syndrome who required mechanical ventilation shortly after birth were randomized into two groups: 29 given furosemide (1 mg/kg/day intravenously for three doses) and 27 control. The clinical, biochemical, and laboratory characteristics of the groups were comparable before entry into the study. Administration of furosemide significantly enhanced the urinary excretion of Na and Cl at 0 to 24, 24 to 48 and 48 to 72 hours and of Ca at 24 to 48 and 48 to 72 hours after drug administration. There was no significant difference between the groups in urinary excretion of K and in serum Na, Cl, K, and Ca values. A spontaneous increase in urine output occurred in the control groupat 48 to 72 hours after the initiation of the study (mean -SD 7.0±3.5 hours postnatal age), along with a decrease in mean airway pressure for mechanical ventilation. The use of furosemide (7.3±3.5 hours postnatal age) enhanced urine output at 24 to 48 and 48 to 72 hours after medication, resulting in further decrease in mean airway pressure and facilitating extubation. There was, however, no significant difference between the groups with respect to incidence of patent ductus arteriosus, morbidity from bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and mortality.
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