15/07/2017 9:45 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2017 9:45 AM AEST

New Research Shows Caffeine Has Big Benefits For Premature Babies

Caffeine can help premature babies breathe better.

A landmark Australian study has shown caffeine can help premature babies.
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A landmark Australian study has shown caffeine can help premature babies.

Australian researchers have found that giving caffeine to premature babies can boost their chances of having healthy lungs later in life.

Melbourne Royal Women's Hospital doctors monitored the development of over 140 premature babies -- half of whom were given a dose of caffeine once a day -- over 11 years.

The trial participants were checked at 18 months and five years, with the group that received caffeine found to have significantly better breathing at age 11 than the control group.

In groundbreaking results, the longitudinal research found that those given caffeine were 50 percent less likely to have lung issues. Caffeine was also found to strengthens and regulates breathing.

The caffeine was given to the babies with milk through a tube or as an injection, once a day, according to the ABC.

Lead researcher Professor Lex Doyle told Fairfax Media that caffeine had been popular with infants for 20 years, despite a lack of evidence on safety.

"The problem was there were some experimental studies coming out from animals [etc] suggesting that caffeine was bad for your brain. We were worried it was going to cause long-term problems. All we have seen is good," Doyle told Fairfax.