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Multiple corticosteroid injections in pregnant women may increase cerebral palsy
Date:9/21/2007

CHAPEL HILL -- When pregnant women are at high risk for preterm birth, giving them a single injection of corticosteroids has been shown to reduce the babys chances of having serious lung problems after birth.

But some women receive multiple injections of corticosteroids, and a new study shows that repeat courses of corticosteroids are linked to an increased rate of cerebral palsy among children of these mothers.

Our study shows that you get almost all of the benefit from a single round of therapy and that multiple rounds raise the risk of cerebral palsy, which is a severely disabling condition, said John M. Thorp, M.D., a study co-author and McAllister distinguished professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Thats why we concluded that exposure to repeat courses should be limited, Thorp said.

The study results are published in the Sept. 20, 2007, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The lead author is Ronald J. Wapner, M.D., of Drexel University in Philadelphia. The study was conducted for the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which provided grant funding. Research took place at 14 sites across the United States, including UNC-Chapel Hill.

The researchers followed women between 23 weeks and 32 weeks pregnant who remained pregnant after an initial dose of corticosteroids. They were randomly assigned to receive weekly courses of the corticosteriod betamethasone or placebo injections.

Children born to women enrolled in the study were given physical and neurological examinations at ages 2 to 3 years old. A total of 556 children were examined. Of these, 486 (87.4 percent) had physical exams and 465 (83.6 percent) were evaluated for brain function using a measurement tool called the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.

The researchers found that there were no
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Contact: Stephanie Crayton
scrayton@unch.unc.edu
919-966-2860
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

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