Evolving neonatal steroid prescription habits and patient outcomes

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Indications for post-natal steroids among preterm infants are evolving. The objective of this study was to compare steroid use in 2 cohorts 5 years apart and to document the short- and long-term outcomes of our most recent cohort.


Retrospective chart review of infants born under 28 weeks of gestational age for two cohorts (January 2002-August 2003 and July 2008-March 2010).


Two hundred and fourteen infants were included. More infants received steroids in the later cohort (20% vs 35%, p = 0.021) but survival rates did not improve. There was a shift towards hydrocortisone use (<7% vs 76%) and pulmonary indications (36% vs 61% of courses; p = 0.021). Patients died later (8 days vs 30 days; p = 0.02), with a strong correlation between time of death and total dose of steroids (r = 0.91; p = 0.01). Neurodevelopmental outcomes for patients who received steroids for pulmonary indications were inferior to those for the rest of the cohort (severe adverse outcome 26% vs 4.8%, p = 0.03).


The improvement in short-term respiratory status of ill preterm patients was offset by a disturbing increase in age at death and no improvement in survival rates.

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