Normal lung growth following antenatal dexamethasone treatment for respiratory distress syndrome

Pediatr Pulmonol. 1988;5(1):27-30. doi: 10.1002/ppul.1950050107.


Antenatal steroid therapy reduces the incidence of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) in premature infants. However, animal studies showed a decrease in lung cell number and lower lung weights in fetal rabbits exposed to hydrocortisone. This prompted us to measure flows and lung volumes (by spirometry and helium-dilution method) in children greater than 6 years who were part of a study by the Collaborative Group on Antenatal Steroid Therapy. The effect of antenatal steroids on subsequent pulmonary function had not previously been studied. Of the 158 children originally enrolled before birth, a total of 8 dexamethasone (DEX)- and 11 placebo-treated children were still local residents and fulfilled the criteria of the study (gestational age, 28-34 weeks; DEX/placebo treatment 1-7 days before delivery). Mean heights and weights were normal with no significant differences between the groups. Pulmonary function tests showed no differences in lung volumes or expiratory flows between the children whose mothers had received antenatal DEX and those who had received placebo. These results indicate no adverse effect of antenatal DEX on subsequent lung volumes and expiratory flows in childhood.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fetal Organ Maturity / drug effects*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / embryology*
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / prevention & control*


  • Dexamethasone