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Antenatal corticosteroids and neurodevelopmental outcomes in late preterm births


Objectives Antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) decrease neonatal mortality and morbidity among preterm neonates, yet there has been concern regarding their long-term safety. We hypothesised that potential long-term adverse effects of ACS may be observed among infants born during the late preterm period (LPT, 340/7–366/7 weeks of gestation), when the benefits of ACS are subtle.

Design Population-based, retrospective cohort.

Setting Ontario, Canada, between 2006 and 2011.

Patients All live singleton infants born during the LPT period with a minimum 5-year follow-up.

Interventions Exposure to ACS prior to 340/7 weeks of gestation.

Main outcome measures Suspected neurocognitive disorder, audiometry testing or visual testing.

Results Overall, 25 668 infants were eligible for analysis, of whom 2689 (10.5%) received ACS. Infants in the ACS group had lower mean birth weight and higher rates of birth weight <10th percentile, neonatal resuscitation and neonatal intensive care unit admission. At 5 years of age, ACS exposure was associated with an increased risk of suspected neurocognitive disorder (adjusted HR (aHR) 1.12, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.20), audiometry testing (aHR 1.20, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.31) and visual testing (aHR 1.06, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.11).

Conclusion In children born during the LPT period, exposure to ACS prior to 340/7 weeks of gestation is associated with an increased utilisation of the healthcare system related to audiometry and visual testing and suspected neurocognitive disorders by 5 years of age.

  • neonatology
  • neurology
  • epidemiology

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

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