Respiratory effects of prolonged prednisolone use in infants with evolving and established Bronchopulmonary dysplasia

Early Hum Dev. 2021 May:156:105344. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2021.105344. Epub 2021 Mar 3.


Background: Current literature focuses on systemic corticosteroids for prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in preterm infants with limited data on use for pulmonary disease after the first month of life. Prednisolone may be a reasonable option for late treatment given its desirable pharmacologic properties and use in other pediatric disease states.

Aims: To characterize a premature population that received an extended prednisolone course and determine the effect on respiratory and anthropometric outcomes over time.

Study design: Single-center, retrospective study.

Subjects: Preterm infants who received ≥30 days of prednisolone or methylprednisolone for treatment of respiratory complications following preterm birth.

Outcomes measures: Assessment of pulmonary severity score (PSS), weight, length, and occipital frontal circumference weekly during the first 4 weeks of prednisolone and after discontinuation.

Results: Thirty-four infants with a mean gestational age of 26.5 ± 2.5 weeks and birth weight of 846 ± 353 g were identified. Nine patients were on invasive mechanical ventilation and 25 patients were on non-invasive respiratory support at prednisolone initiation. Prednisolone was initiated at a mean post-menstrual age of 41.7 ± 5 weeks and a mean dose of 1.7 ± 0.6 mg/kg/day. A significant decrease in PSS was seen over time (p < 0.001) without rebound following discontinuation. Eleven patients decreased the mode of respiratory support during prednisolone treatment. No significant impact in anthropometric outcomes were identified.

Conclusion: Prolonged prednisolone use was associated with a sustained decrease in PSS without adverse effects on growth measurements. These results suggest potential benefit of prednisolone on respiratory outcomes in a subset of preterm infants.

Keywords: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia; Corticosteroids; Infant; Prednisolone; Prematurity.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia* / drug therapy
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Prednisolone / adverse effects
  • Premature Birth*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Prednisolone