Repeated antenatal corticosteroids: effects on cerebral palsy and childhood behavior

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Mar;190(3):588-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2003.12.016.


Objective: This study was undertaken to determine the effects of repeated courses of antenatal corticosteroids on childhood behavior and disabilities, including cognitive delay and cerebral palsy.

Study design: Nonrandomized regional cohort of 541 very preterm infants born in Western Australia from singleton pregnancies and alive at 3 years were included in the study.

Main outcome measures: Physical, cognitive, and psychological assessments up to 6 years.

Results: Increasing numbers of antenatal corticosteroid courses were associated with a reduction in the rate of cerebral palsy. Three or more courses were also associated with increased rates of aggressive/destructive, distractible, and hyperkinetic behavior and these effects were present at both ages 3 and 6 years. Measures of internalizing behavior and intelligence quotient were unaffected by antenatal corticosteroid use.

Conclusion: Repeated antenatal courses of corticosteroids may protect against cerebral palsy but are associated with hyperactivity later in childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Cerebral Palsy / prevention & control*
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperkinesis / chemically induced*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones