Repeated antenatal corticosteroids: size at birth and subsequent development

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Jan;180(1 Pt 1):114-21. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(99)70160-2.


Objective: The objective was to study the effects of repeated antenatal corticosteroids on birth size, growth, and development in preterm infants.

Study design: This observational study followed up for 3 years a prospective geographic cohort in the state of Western Australia of 477 singleton infants born at <33 weeks' gestation.

Results: Birth weight ratio decreased with increasing number of corticosteroid courses (P =.001), and multivariate analyses confirmed a reduction in birth weight of as much as 9% (P =.014) and a reduction in head circumference of as much as 4% (P =.0024). There were no additional benefits in mortality or respiratory outcomes, and there was a trend toward more severe chronic lung disease. At age 3 years growth and severe disability outcomes did not appear to be related to increasing number of corticosteroid courses.

Conclusions: In this cohort study repeated corticosteroid courses were associated with adverse effects on size at birth without apparent benefits. These changes have the potential to affect later development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Birth Weight / drug effects*
  • Cephalometry
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones