Objective: To test the efficacy of single-dose dexamethasone (DXM) in the management of severe arterial hypotension of newborn infants. Our hypothesis was that epinephrine infusions could be discontinued in 70% of patients within 12 hours after DXM administration compared with 10% in the placebo group.
Study design: Twenty preterm infants (median birth weight 690 g, gestational age 28 weeks, age at intervention 2 days) who did not respond to a standardized treatment protocol (blood/colloid followed by dopamine infusion stepwise increased to 15 micrograms/kg and minute) were started on an epinephrine infusion and were randomly allocated to receive either DXM (0.25 mg/kg) or placebo intravenously. The primary outcome criterion was the need for an epinephrine infusion 12 hours after treatment.
Results: Three infants were excluded. Epinephrine infusion was discontinued in 5 of 8 infants with DXM but in only 1 of 9 infants in the control group. The duration of epinephrine infusion was significantly shorter in the DXM group (exact log-rank test, P =. 023).
Conclusions: DXM was effective for the management of severe arterial hypotension in preterm infants not responding to standardized treatment.