Prenatal exposure to betamethasone, but not dexamethasone, significantly reduced the risk of cystic periventricular leukomalacia, a major cause of cerebral palsy, reported Dr. Olivier Baud of Antoine Beclere University Hospital in Clamart, France, and his associates.
Little has been known about the prophylactic effects of glucocorticoids against periventricular leukomalacia (N. Engl. J. Med. 341:1190-96, 1999).
In a retrospective study, the rate of periventricular leukomalacia was 4.4% among 361 infants whose mothers had received betamethasone and 11.0% among 164 infants whose mothers had received dexamethasone.
The women received steroids because they were considered to be at risk for preterm delivery
The rate was 8.4% among 357 infants whose mothers received neither glucocorticoid.
After adjustment for covariates such as gestational age, delivery mode, and the presence of chorioamnionitis, infants whose mothers had received betamethasone had a 0.5 odds ratio of developing periventricular leukomalacia, compared with infants whose mothers did not receive glucocorticoids. Infants whose mothers had received dexamethasone had a 1.5 odds ratio.
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