To study whether antenatal or neonatal glucocorticoid therapy to reduce the incidence and severity of chronic lung disease in preterm infants is associated with long-term adverse cardiac effects and hypertension.
Retrospective matched-cohort study.
Outpatient clinic of a tertiary care hospital.
One hundred ninety-three children aged 7 to 10 years who had been born prematurely between December 2, 1993, and September 15, 1997.
Neonatal treatment with dexamethasone disodium phosphate(n = 48) or the clinically equally effective glucocorticoid hydrocortisone (n = 51), or only antenatal treatment with betamethasone disodium phosphate and betamethasone acetate (n = 51). These 3 groups were compared with a reference group of prematurely born children who had not been exposed to perinatal glucocorticoid therapy (n = 43).
Main Outcome Measures
General hemodynamic data (heart rate and blood pressure), cardiovascular function as assessed at echocardiography, intima-media thickness of the carotid arteries, and cardiac biochemical features as early markers of expansion and volume overload of the cardiac left ventricle (B-type natriuretic peptide and N-terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide).
No significant group differences were found for heart rate, blood pressure, biochemical features, intima-media thickness, or systolic or diastolic left ventricular function.
Although no differences were found in blood pressure and cardiovascular function at school age in children antenatally or neonatally treated with glucocorticoids, further cardiovascular follow-up may be advisable because cardiovascular dysfunction may become apparent only later in life.