Assessment of Postnatal Corticosteroids for the Prevention of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in Preterm Neonates: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis

JAMA Pediatr. 2021 Jun 1;175(6):e206826. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.6826. Epub 2021 Jun 7.


Importance: The safety of postnatal corticosteroids used for prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in preterm neonates is a controversial matter, and a risk-benefit balance needs to be struck.

Objective: To evaluate 14 corticosteroid regimens used to prevent BPD: moderately early-initiated, low cumulative dose of systemic dexamethasone (MoLdDX); moderately early-initiated, medium cumulative dose of systemic dexamethasone (MoMdDX); moderately early-initiated, high cumulative dose of systemic dexamethasone (MoHdDX); late-initiated, low cumulative dose of systemic dexamethasone (LaLdDX); late-initiated, medium cumulative dose of systemic dexamethasone (LaMdDX); late-initiated, high cumulative dose of systemic dexamethasone (LaHdDX); early-initiated systemic hydrocortisone (EHC); late-initiated systemic hydrocortisone (LHC); early-initiated inhaled budesonide (EIBUD); early-initiated inhaled beclomethasone (EIBEC); early-initiated inhaled fluticasone (EIFLUT); late-initiated inhaled budesonide (LIBUD); late-initiated inhaled beclomethasone (LIBEC); and intratracheal budesonide (ITBUD).

Data sources: PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Embase, World Health Organization's International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP), and CINAHL were searched from inception through August 25, 2020.

Study selection: In this systematic review and network meta-analysis, the randomized clinical trials selected included preterm neonates with a gestational age of 32 weeks or younger and for whom a corticosteroid regimen was initiated within 4 weeks of postnatal age. Peer-reviewed articles and abstracts in all languages were included.

Data extraction and synthesis: Two independent authors extracted data in duplicate. Network meta-analysis used a bayesian model.

Main outcomes and measures: Primary combined outcome was BPD, defined as oxygen requirement at 36 weeks' postmenstrual age (PMA), or mortality at 36 weeks' PMA. The secondary outcomes included 15 safety outcomes.

Results: A total of 62 studies involving 5559 neonates (mean [SD] gestational age, 26 [1] weeks) were included. Several regimens were associated with a decreased risk of BPD or mortality, including EHC (risk ratio [RR], 0.82; 95% credible interval [CrI], 0.68-0.97); EIFLUT (RR, 0.75; 95% CrI, 0.55-0.98); LaHdDX (RR, 0.70; 95% CrI, 0.54-0.87); MoHdDX (RR, 0.64; 95% CrI, 0.48-0.82); ITBUD (RR, 0.73; 95% CrI, 0.57-0.91); and MoMdDX (RR, 0.61; 95% CrI, 0.45-0.79). Surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA) value ranking showed that MoMdDX (SUCRA, 0.91), MoHdDX (SUCRA, 0.86), and LaHdDX (SUCRA, 0.76) were the 3 most beneficial interventions. ITBUD (RR, 4.36; 95% CrI, 1.04-12.90); LaHdDX (RR, 11.91; 95% CrI, 1.64-44.49); LaLdDX (RR, 6.33; 95% CrI, 1.62-18.56); MoHdDX (RR, 4.96; 95% CrI, 1.14-14.75); and MoMdDX (RR, 3.16; 95% CrI, 1.35-6.82) were associated with more successful extubation from invasive mechanical ventilation. EHC was associated with a higher risk of gastrointestinal perforation (RR, 2.77; 95% CrI, 1.09-9.32). MoMdDX showed a higher risk of hypertension (RR, 3.96; 95% CrI, 1.10-30.91). MoHdDX had a higher risk of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (RR, 5.94; 95% CrI, 1.95-18.11).

Conclusions and relevance: This study suggested that MoMdDX may be the most appropriate postnatal corticosteroid regimen for preventing BPD or mortality at a PMA of 36 weeks, albeit with a risk of hypertension. The quality of evidence was low.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / prevention & control*
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*


  • Glucocorticoids