Long-Term Outcomes of Multiple versus a Single Course of Antenatal Steroids: A Systematic Review Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Multiple courses versus a single course of antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) have been associated with mild respiratory benefits but also adverse outcomes like smaller head circumference and birth weight. Long-term effects warrant study. We systematically reviewed long-term outcomes (≥1 year) in both preterm and term birth after exposure to preterm multiple courses (including a rescue dose or course) versus a single course. We searched seven databases from January 2000 to October 2021. We included follow-up studies of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and cohort studies with births occurring in/after the year 2000, given advances in perinatal care. Two reviewers assessed titles/abstracts, articles, quality, and outcomes including psychological disorders, neurodevelopment, and anthropometry. Six follow-up studies of three RCTs and two cohort studies (over 2,860 children total) met inclusion criteria. Among children born preterm, randomization to multiple courses versus a single course of ACS was not associated with adjusted beneficial or adverse neurodevelopmental/psychological or other outcomes, but data are scant after a rescue dose (120 and 139 children, respectively, low certainty) and nonexistent after a rescue course. For children born at term (i.e., 27% of the multiple courses of ACS 5-year follow-up study of 1,728 preterm/term born children), preterm randomization to multiple courses (at least one additional course) versus a single course was significantly associated with elevated odds of neurosensory impairment (adjusted odds ratio = 3.70, 95% confidence interval: 1.57–8.75; 212 and 247 children, respectively, moderate certainty). In this systematic review of long-term outcomes after multiple courses versus a single course of ACS, there were no significant benefits or risks regarding neurodevelopment in children born preterm but little data after one rescue dose and none after a rescue course. However, multiple courses (i.e., at least one additional course) should be considered cautiously: after term birth, there are no long-term benefits but neurosensory harms. Key Points


  • Ninan, Kiran
  • Liyanage, Sugee K
  • Murphy, Kellie E
  • Asztalos, Elizabeth V
  • McDonald, Sarah

publication date

  • March 2024