Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone, neurotransmitter, and medication. It is the best established drug in neonatal resuscitation, but only weak evidence supports current recommendations for its use. Furthermore, the available evidence is partly based on extrapolations from adult studies, and this introduces further uncertainty, especially when considering the unique physiological characteristics of newly born infants. The timing, dose, and route of administration of adrenaline are still debated, even though this medication has been used in neonatal resuscitation for a long time. According to the most recent Neonatal Resuscitation Guidelines from the American Heart Association, adrenaline use is indicated when the heart rate remains < 60 beats per minute despite the establishment of adequate ventilation with 100% oxygen and chest compressions. The aforementioned guidelines recommend intravenous administration (via an umbilical venous catheter) of adrenaline at a dose of 0.01-0.03 mg/kg (1:10,000 concentration). Endotracheal administration of a higher dose (0.05-0.1 mg/kg) may be considered while venous access is being obtained, even if supportive data for endotracheal adrenaline are lacking. The safety and efficacy of intraosseous administration of adrenaline remain to be investigated. This article reviews the evidence on the circulatory effects and tolerability of adrenaline in the newborn, discusses literature data on adrenaline use in neonatal cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and describes international recommendations and outcome data regarding the use of this medication during neonatal resuscitation.
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