Effects into adulthood of single or repeated antenatal corticosteroids in sheep
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OBJECTIVE: To determine effects of maternal or fetal injections of betamethasone on postnatal growth and arterial pressure. STUDY DESIGN: We measured body weight, arterial pressure, and heart rate serially in sheep born after single or repeated maternal or fetal betamethasone injections. At approximately 3.5 years, organ weights were measured. RESULTS: Repeated maternal betamethasone injections caused intrauterine growth restriction, and low body weight and blood pressure at 3 months. From 6 months to 3 years, body weight, blood pressure, and heart rate were not affected by treatment. At approximately 3.5 years, brain weight was reduced after single or repeated maternal betamethasone by 13% and 18%, respectively (P = .001). Fetal betamethasone reduced brain weight by 7% to 8% (P = .018). Weights of other organs were not affected by treatment. Brain weight was unrelated to body weight at approximately 3.5 years (P = .649) but was related to birth weight (P = .029). CONCLUSION: Prenatal betamethasone does not have long-term effects on blood pressure but causes a persistent deficit in brain weight.