Caffeine Citrate (Cafcit®)

Helping Hand Logo

Caffeine citrate is the generic name for the medicine, Cafcit® (KAF sit). Caffeine citrate can help to keep a premature infant from having periods of apnea (AP-nee-uh). This is when a baby stops breathing for a short time. The medicine works by stimulating the part of the brain that controls breathing. Symptoms should get better in a few days.

The caffeine in Cafcit® is specially made to be safely given to premature infants. Only Cafcit® should be used to prevent apnea. Do not give your baby coffee, tea or other drinks that contain caffeine. If you are breast-feeding, you should avoid coffee, tea, chocolate and foods that contain caffeine. Caffeine passes into breastmilk.

How to Give This Medicine

  • If your child is allergic to caffeine, he should not take this medicine.
  • Wash and dry your hands before and after using the medicine.
  • Read the label carefully and make sure you know the right amount to give.
  • If you need help in knowing how to measure the medicine, ask your health provider or pharmacist to show you.
  • Use a marked pediatric measuring device (available at the pharmacy). Do not measure liquid medicines in kitchen spoons (Picture 1).
  • Stay with your child until he or she has swallowed the dose of medicine.
  • Give the exact dose of medicine your doctor ordered. Do not change doses or stop the medicine without talking to your child’s doctor. Your child’s apnea could get worse.
  • It is very important to give the medicine every day as ordered, even if your child feels fine.
  • This medicine can be given with or without food (breastmilk or formula).

If You Forget to Give a Dose

If you forget to give a dose of this medicine, give it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, do not give the missed dose at all. Do not double the next dose. Instead, go back to your regular dosing schedule. If you have any questions about this, check with your child's doctor or pharmacist.

If a Dose Is Vomited

  • If the medicine is vomited (thrown up) right after you give it, do not repeat the dose. Some of the medicine may still be in your child’s stomach.
  • Vomiting is a side effect of this medicine. If it occurs again with future doses, call your child’s doctor.

Medicine Storage

  • Store all medicine out of the reach of children.
  • Always keep medicine in the original bottle from the pharmacy.
  • Store at room temperature. Do not keep this medicine in the refrigerator.
  • This medicine is in a single use vial (bottle). This means that once it has been opened, any medicine left over needs to be thrown away.
  • When the medicine is no longer needed, dissolve the leftover medicine in water or rubbing alcohol. Then mix it with an unwanted material like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Place the mixture back in the medicine container or in another container that will not leak. Throw the container away in the trash where children and pets cannot reach it.

Drug and Food Interactions

  • Do not give over-the-counter medicines (such as acetaminophen, aspirin, antacid or cold medicines) without checking with your child’s doctor or pharmacist first.
  • If your child is taking any other medicine or herbal supplements, tell his doctor and pharmacist. Certain medicines should not be taken with caffeine.
  • Ask your child’s doctor if it is all right to give a vitamin or mineral supplement.

Possible Side Effects

  • Agitation (child is “fidgety”)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability (child is “cranky”)
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea (upset stomach)
  • Very fast heart beat
  • Poor feeding
  • Increased urination

When to Call for Emergency Help

Call 911 if your child has any of these signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue, lips, throat or face
  • Swelling of the hands, feet or ankles

When to Call the Doctor

Call your child's doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Your child is having more periods of apnea than before.
  • Your child is having any side effects.

Other Advice About This Medicine and All Medicines

  • Get this prescription refilled at least 3 to 5 days before the last dose is given.
  • Some pharmacies may not have this medicine. Please ask your nurse to call your pharmacy before you leave the hospital to see if they have or can order it for you. You may also have the prescription filled at the hospital pharmacy.
  • The doctor has prescribed this medicine for your child only. Do not give it to anyone else.
  • It is important to keep a record of all medicines that your child takes.
  • Tell your child's doctor and pharmacist if your child has a strange or allergic reaction to any medicine.
  • If you carry medicine in your purse, keep it in its childproof bottle and keep your purse out of the reach of children.
  • Bring all your child's medicines with you in the original bottles whenever your child sees a doctor, goes to an emergency room or is admitted to the hospital. This helps doctors who may not know your child.
  • Learn the name, spelling and dose of this medicine. You will need to know this information when you call your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If your child takes too much of this medicine or if someone else takes this medicine, first call the Central Ohio Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 (TTY 614-228-2272). They will tell you what to do.

Follow-Up Visits

You can expect your child to have regular follow-up visits with the doctor. Blood tests may be done at each visit to check the level of the medicine in his body. If you cannot keep the appointment, be sure to call the doctor ahead of time, to reschedule.

Caffeine Citrate (Cafcit®) (PDF)

HH-V-147 3/18 Copyright 2002, Nationwide Children’s Hospital