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A 42 day tapering course of dexamethasone reduced duration of assisted ventilation in very low birthweight infants, but increased risk of cerebral palsy at age 1 year

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QUESTION: Among very low birthweight infants, does a 42 day course of dexamethasone reduce duration of assisted ventilation and affect developmental outcome at age 1 year?


Randomised (allocation concealed*), unblinded, placebo controlled trial with follow up at age 1 year.


2 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in North Carolina, USA.


118 infants (53% boys, 61% white) who were 15–25 days old and had birth weight <1501 g; <10% decrease in ventilator settings for the previous 24 hours and fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2) ≥0.3; …

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  • Source of funding for study by O'Shea et al: North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources.

  • For correspondence:Dr TM O'Shea, Department of Pediatrics, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA. Fax +1 336 716 2525.

  • * Information provided by author.