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Newborn and Infant Care

Use of Phenobarbital on Infants

09/27/2001

Question:

We live overseas, so I`m seeking a second opinion. Our baby was delivered at term. She suffered perinatal asphyxia (15 minutes before having a heartbeat). She had seizures the first couple of days. The initial ultrasound showed some swelling. The EEG done at 4 days came back normal. The seizures stopped after about 4 days. She started sucking the first week and is now eating well. We just brought her home from the hospital (after 17 days). The second ultrasound (at 16 days) still showed some swelling. We will be having another ultrasound and EEG in two weeks. When we checked out, there was some discussion among the doctors whether or not she should continue on the phenobarbital. The ultimate decision was to continue it for 3 more months (9 drops every 12 hours). I`ve seen a study that was published on the web that recommended infants delivered at full term should not continue on phenobarbital if there are no signs of seizures. What is your advise?

Answer:

The use of Phenobarbital in infants for seizure control is controversial, and you will get different answers regarding its use from different people. Have you shared the research study with your daughter’s health care provider? Have you discussed your concerns with them? Her health care provider is in the best position to make the decision regarding the use of Phenobarbital because they are aware of her history, test results, response to all medication, and have the advantage of examining her. So, my advice to you is to discuss all your concerns with them, and have copies of all studies you are referring to for them to read.

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati