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Cardiac effects of a single course of antenatal betamethasone in preterm infants


Aim: To show the effects of a single course of antenatal betamethasone on cardiac measurements and systolic functions in premature newborn infants.

Methods: Seventy six newborn infants with a gestational age of 25–33 weeks were included in the study. They were first classified according to their gestational age: 25–29 weeks (n  =  28) and 30–33 weeks (n  =  48). They were then reclassified as betamethasone positive (mother received one course of betamethasone) or betamethasone negative (mother did not receive any antenatal glucocorticoid treatment). Cross sectional M mode echocardiographic scans were performed during the first three postnatal days and at the end of the first and third weeks. Left interventricular septum (IVS), left ventricular posterior wall (LVPW), left ventricular end diastolic (LVED), and left ventricular end systolic (LVES) dimensions, aortic root (AO), and left atrial diameters (LAs) were measured. The IVS to LVPW ratio was calculated to identify asymmetrical septal hypertrophy.

Results: In neither group was any statistically significant difference noted in IVS, LVED, LVES, LVPW, LA, and AO measurements during the three cardiac ultrasonography scans. Systolic function, as assessed by fractional shortening, was not significantly different in infants who received betamethasone antenatally, in either age group. There was no difference in the IVS/LVPW ratios between those who received antenatal steroid and those who did not for the 25–29 week and 30–33 week groups during these three consecutive scans.

Conclusion: One course of antenatal betamethasone did not affect the cardiac wall thicknesses and systolic function in premature infants.

  • AO, aortic root
  • IVS, left interventricular septum
  • LA, left atrial diameter
  • LVED, left ventricular end diastolic dimension
  • LVES, left ventricular end systolic dimension
  • LVPW, left ventricular posterior wall
  • cardiac dimensions
  • preterm
  • betamethasone
  • antenatal treatment
  • cardiac hypertrophy

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