Diuretics are among the most frequently prescribed medications in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), despite minimal data regarding the safety and efficacy of their use in the neonatal population. Off-label diuretic therapy is used in preterm and full-term infants to both optimize kidney function and improve respiratory status.
This article examines the literature specific to the impact of diuretic therapy in the NICU and compares the benefits versus risks of utilization as they pertain to the prevention and treatment of renal and pulmonary dysfunction in this population.
A comprehensive literature search of online databases was performed, utilizing: CINAHL via EBSCO, PubMed, and ProQuest. Full-text, peer-reviewed, clinical trials, and review articles published in the English language between 2005 and 2015 were searched.
Diuretics rank as the seventh most frequently prescribed medication in the NICU. More than 8% of all NICU patients and 37% of infants born at less than 32 gestational weeks and weighing less than 1500 g are exposed to diuretics. Benefits include lung fluid resorption acceleration, improved urine output, fluid retention counteraction, and augmentation of physiologic weight loss.
Implications for Practice:
Diuretics are currently utilized in the NICU at an alarming rate, without adequate clinical trials regarding their safety and efficacy of use.
Implications for Research:
Updated studies are needed regarding short- and long-term outcomes of diuretic use, as well as overall general outcome data regarding the impact and evaluation of diuretic usage in the NICU population.