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Newborn and Infant Care

Neonatal sedation



Why pethidine is not recommended in Neonatal Sedation


Pethidine is also known as meperidine and it's more familiar name of Demerol. Pethidine is converted by the liver into a drug form that can be very toxic to nerves. This toxic (poisonous) form's effects cannot be reversed by Narcan or similar drugs that reverse the effects of opioid drugs; Demerol falls in that drug class. In addition, toxic drug levels are more likely to build up if there is altered kidney function. All newborns have markedly reduced kidney function just because they are physiologically immature. Full kidney function matures over a lengthy period. Finally, seizures are a common side effect of Demerol and no one wants to further complicate an ill newborn's clinical status with seizures from a drug for which there are safer alternatives. I hope you find this information helpful.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University