A painless, needle-free test for premature babies soon

April 14th, 2011 - 1:56 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 14 (IANS) A new needle-free test will soon take the pain out of testing medicines in premature babies.

The research will not only lead to greater accuracy in prescribing, but will also reduce the trauma of such tests for newborn infants and their families.

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have pioneered the test, reports the journal Paediatrics.

The study, which involves the use of blood spots obtained from a simple heel-prick, took place in the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s, according to its release.

Said Principal Investigator, Queen’s Professor of Pharmacy Practice James McElnay: “This type of testing will obviously reduce the discomfort of medicine testing in these vulnerable patients.”

“What is even more important, however, is that it will ensure maximum accuracy in calculating the most appropriate dose of a medicine for a sick child.,” he added.

“Some 80 percent of infants in intensive care in hospitals receive medicines which have not been appropriately tested or licensed for use in such young patients,” he said.

The Queen’s study involved the antibiotic metronidazole. The research team used single drops of blood collected on blotting paper from premature infants who were receiving the medicine as part of their routine care.

The ’spots’ were dried, analysed in the University’s School of Pharmacy, and the results used to develop dosage guidance for doctors.

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