Chronology and Determinants of Respiratory Function Changes Following Administration of Systemic Postnatal Corticosteroids in Extremely Preterm Infants

Theodore Dassios*, Ourania Kaltsogianni, Ann Hickey, Ravindra Bhat, Anne Greenough

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To describe the effect of systemic corticosteroids administered to treat evolving bronchopulmonary dysplasia on oxygen diffusion and ventilation efficiency. Study design: This was a retrospective cohort study of ventilated infants who received a 9-day course of dexamethasone in a tertiary neonatal unit. We calculated the transcutaneous oxygen saturation–to–fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) ratio (SFR), the ventilation perfusion ratio (VA/Q), and the ventilation efficiency index (VEI) before, during, and after the course of corticosteroids. The response to corticosteroids was calculated as the difference between the FiO2 percentage before starting steroids and the lowest FiO2 value during the course of steroid treatment. Results: Seventy infants (38 males) with a median gestational age (GA) of 25.0 weeks (IQR, 24.3-26.0 weeks) and a median birth weight of 0.70 kg (IQR, 0.63-0.82 kg) were studied at a median postnatal age of 39 days (IQR, 29-48 days). The median SFR before treatment was 1.42 (IQR, 1.19-1.72), and the highest SFR was 2.35 (IQR, 1.87-2.83) after 9 days of treatment. The median VA/Q before treatment was 0.14 (IQR, 0.11-0.18) and was significantly higher at 72 hours after the start of treatment (0.22; IQR, 0.15-0.29; P < .001). The median VEI was 0.06 (IQR, 0.04-0.08) before treatment and was highest, 0.10 (IQR, 0.07-0.13) at 48 hours after starting treatment. The median rate of response to corticosteroids was 28% (IQR, 20%-37%). GA was significantly related to the response to corticosteroids (ρ = 0.283; P = .019). Conclusions: Oxygen diffusion continues to improve throughout the entire duration of a 9-day course of systemically administered corticosteroids in ventilated extremely preterm infants. More immature infants are less responsive to corticosteroids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • corticosteroids
  • preterm-born infants
  • respiratory function

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