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Review: early postnatal corticosteroids reduce chronic lung disease in preterm infants, but increase complications

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QUESTIONS: Does early postnatal corticosteroid (PC) treatment given within the first 96 hours of birth decrease the risk of chronic lung disease (CLD) in at risk, preterm infants? Do PCs increase the risk of adverse effects?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching the Oxford Database of Perinatal Trials, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, and Medline (1966 to September 2000); handsearching paediatric and perinatal journals; examining review articles; and contacting practising neonatologists.

Study selection

Randomised controlled trials were selected if they compared intravenous PC treatment given within 96 hours of birth with control (placebo or nothing) in preterm infants at risk of developing CLD.

Data extraction

Data were extracted on study methods, participant characteristics, and outcomes.

Main results

19 trials were included in the analysis. Most trials involved low birthweight infants with …

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  • Source of funding: no external funding.

  • For correspondence: Professor H L Halliday, Department of Child Health, Queen's University of Belfast, Regional Neonatal Unit, Royal Maternity Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT12 6BB, UK. Fax +44 (0)289 023 6203. h.halliday{at}