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.