Aim: To survey practices in 14 European countries and describe strategies for the prevention and treatment of bronchopulmonary dysplasia with postnatal steroids (PNS).
Methods: In 1999-2000 questionnaires covering the use of PNS were sent to every neonatal unit taking very preterm newborns in charge, in population-based areas covering at least 20000 births annually. One questionnaire was sent to surveyed unit. The participating areas were chosen by an expert from each country participating in the Europe Against Immature Lung (EURAIL) study group.
Results: Responses to 331 questionnaires were received; the mean response rate by countries was 84% (range 64-100%). Teaching hospitals accounted for 19% of the responding units. The number of extremely premature newborns (less than 28 wk of gestation) admitted yearly to these units was 0 in 16%, < 20 in 62%, 20-39 in 11% and > 39 in 11%. Overall, 67% of the centres used PNS: 48% initiated treatment in non-intubated infants and 53% at 7-14 d. Treatment duration was 4-15 d in 62% and > 15 d in 21%. PNS administration was limited to intubated infants less often in smaller units [odds ratio (OR) 0.2, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.1-0.6] and more often in non-teaching hospitals (OR 2.5, 95% CI 2.5-5.0).
Conclusions: Although PNS have important side effects, they were still widely used in 1999 to treat or prevent chronic lung disease. Surprisingly, steroids are still prescribed in non-ventilated infants. PNS use should be based on guidelines derived from the evidence from randomized controlled trials. This evidence should be regularly updated and disseminated.