Antenatal dexamethasone and decreased severity of retinopathy of prematurity

Arch Ophthalmol. 1998 May;116(5):601-5. doi: 10.1001/archopht.116.5.601.


Objective: To assess risk factors associated with the development of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in an urban population.

Design: Observational cohort study.

Setting: Bellevue Hospital Center, a regional perinatal referral center in New York City.

Patients: Surviving inborn infants with birth weight less than 1250 g undergoing an ophthalmologic screening examination.

Main outcome measures: Screening examination results for ROP were obtained. Additional data included birth weight, gestational age, maternal factors, and common neonatal diagnoses and exposures.

Results: Sixty-three infants were included in the analysis. Mean +/- SD birth weight was 981+/-179 g and mean gestational age was 27.8+/-2.4 weeks. Infants whose mothers received antenatal dexamethasone developed significantly less ROP that was stage 2 or higher than infants without a history of antenatal dexamethasone exposure--8.7% (2/23) vs 35% (14/40), respectively (P=.04). Birth weight, gestational age, respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and patent ductus arteriosus were also significantly associated with the development of ROP that was stage 2 or higher. After controlling for these confounders by multiple logistic regression analysis, antenatal dexamethasone administration was associated with a significantly decreased risk of development of ROP stage 2 or higher (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.02-0.93). The association was stronger when the analysis was restricted to the 36 infants who were 24 to 28 weeks of gestational age (adjusted OR, 0.02; 95% CI, 0.00-0.76).

Conclusion: Antenatal dexamethasone administration appears to be associated with a decreased incidence of development of ROP of stage 2 or higher in this urban population.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • New York City
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / classification
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / etiology
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Urban Population


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Dexamethasone