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Etiology, clinical manifestations, evaluation, and management of low blood pressure in extremely preterm infants

Beau Batton, MD
Section Editor
Richard Martin, MD
Deputy Editor
Melanie S Kim, MD


Blood pressure (BP) management in the extremely preterm (EPT) infant (gestational age [GA] <28 weeks) is challenging due to the presence of multiple disease processes, unpredictable adaptation to extrauterine life, and difficulty assessing organ perfusion. Although there are data that suggest EPT infants with low BP (eg, perceived hypotension) are at an increased risk for adverse outcomes, low BP in EPT infants with adequate perfusion may not be an independent risk factor for poor outcome. Because data are insufficient regarding the efficacy and safety for antihypotensive therapy in adequately perfused EPT infants, it remains unclear how best to manage low BP in this group of patients. In contrast, the small minority (approximately 10 to 15 percent) of patients with both low BP and poor perfusion are in shock and require immediate attention to restore adequate perfusion (see "Etiology, clinical manifestations, evaluation, and management of neonatal shock", section on 'Initial stabilization').

The challenges of BP management of EPT infants with good perfusion will be discussed here. The etiology, clinical manifestations, evaluation, and management of neonatal shock are discussed separately. (See "Etiology, clinical manifestations, evaluation, and management of neonatal shock".)


Extremely preterm (EPT) infant – Infants born <28 weeks gestational age (GA)

Extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infant – Infants born with BW <1000 g

Cardiac output (CO) is the volume of blood ejected by the heart each minute. It is the product of heart rate (HR) and stroke volume (SV):

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Mar 30, 2017.
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