Bacterial infections are common in the neonates and are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Sixty percent of preterm infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units received at least one antibiotic during the first week of life. Penicillins, aminoglycosides and cephalosporins comprised 53, 43 and 16%, respectively. Kinetic parameters such as the half-life (t1/2
), clearance (Cl), and volume of distribution (Vd) change with development, so the kinetics of penicillins, cephalosporins and aminoglycosides need to be studied in order to optimise therapy with these drugs.
The aim of this study is to review the pharmacokinetics of penicillins, cephalosporins and aminoglycosides in the neonate in a single article in order to provide a critical analysis of the literature and thus provide a useful tool in the hands of physicians. The bibliographic search was performed electronically using PubMed, as the search engine, until February 2nd
, 2010. Medline search terms were as follows: pharmacokinetics AND (penicillins OR cephalosporins OR aminoglycosides) AND infant, newborn, limiting to humans.
Penicillins, cephalosporins and aminoglycosides are fairly water soluble and are mainly eliminated by the kidneys. The maturation of the kidneys governs the pharmacokinetics of penicillins, cephalosporins and aminoglycosides in the neonate. The renal excretory function is reduced in preterms compared to term infants and Cl of these drugs is reduced in premature infants. Gestational and postnatal ages are important factors in the maturation of the neonate and, as these ages proceed, Cl of penicillins, cephalosporins and aminoglycosides increases. Cl and t1/2
are influenced by development and this must be taken into consideration when planning a dosage regimen with these drugs. More pharmacokinetic studies are required to ensure that the dose recommended for the treatment of sepsis in the neonate is evidence based.