Multiple courses of antenatal steroids Academic Article uri icon

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  • The benefits and risks of multiple courses of antenatal steroids (ANS) are still unresolved issues. This was a prospective cohort study in a level III neonatal unit. Preterm babies < or = 35 wk gestation were included. Malformations, chronic maternal steroid intake, exchange transfusions prior to cortisol sampling and incomplete ANS courses were exclusion criteria. Subjects were classified into: No course (Group 0), 1 course (group 1), 2 courses (Group 2), > 2 courses (Group 3) of antenatal dexamethasone. The key outcome was adrenal function assessed by basal and post-ACTH cortisol on day 3. Other outcomes were neonatal morbidity, mortality, growth parameters at birth, long term growth and neuro-development. Of 210 eligible babies, 124 were enrolled. 38, 51, 10 and 25 babies belonged to groups 0, 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Basal and post-ACTH serum cortisol did not show any significant difference between groups (p=0.5 and p=0.9 respectively). Incidence of severe HMD requiring ventilation was significantly lower (p=0.02) in multiple course group (combined groups 2 and 3) compared to single course group. There were no differences in other neonatal morbidity, birth OFC and weight between single and multiple ANS groups. Follow up data at a mean age of 22 mth was available in 59 subjects (69%) belonging to groups 1-3. No differences were noted in the proportion of patients with abnormal neurological examination (p=0.1), abnormal PDI (p=0.9), abnormal MDI (p=0.9) and physical growth between multiple and single course groups. Multiple courses of antenatal dexamethasone resulted in a significant decrease in severe forms of RDS and they did not cause adrenal suppression, decreased growth or impaired neuro-development.


  • Sandesh Kiran, PS
  • Dutta, Sourabh
  • Narang, Anil
  • Bhansali, Anil
  • Malhi, Prahbhjot

publication date

  • May 2007