Background: Antenatal glucocorticoid treatment (AGT) is associated with a number of postnatal benefits to the preterm infant, including reduced risk of respiratory distress syndrome, patent ductus arteriosus, intraventricular hemorrhage, and necrotizing enterocolitis.
Objective: To evaluate the hypothesis that maternal AGT not only reduces the risk of surfactant deficiency but also reduces the occurrence of chronic lung disease (CLD) among surviving preterm infants.
Study design: Case-referent study of 1454 very low birth weight infants born between January 1991 and December 1993 at 4 university medical centers.
Results: Rates of AGT varied among the 4 centers (11%-69%), as did rates of CLD (4%-21%), defined as a requirement for supplemental oxygen at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age. CLD rates at each center, however, did not vary with the rate of AGT exposure. In multivariate logistic regression analyses, AGT did not contribute significantly to CLD risk.
Conclusion: AGT may play a less prominent role in modifying CLD risk than other factors such as biologic immaturity, infection, or neonatal intensive care unit practices, such as mechanical ventilation, continuous positive airway pressure, and surfactant replacement therapy.