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Are newborn outcomes different for term babies who were exposed to antenatal corticosteroids?

      Background

      Antenatal corticosteroids improve newborn outcomes for preterm infants. However, predicting which women presenting for threatened preterm labor will have preterm infants is inaccurate, and many women receive antenatal corticosteroids but then go on to deliver at term.

      Objective

      This study aimed to compare the short-term outcomes of infants born at term to women who received betamethasone for threatened preterm labor with infants who were not exposed to betamethasone in utero.

      Study Design

      We performed a retrospective cohort study of infants born at or after 37 weeks’ gestational age to mothers diagnosed as having threatened preterm labor during pregnancy. The primary neonatal outcomes of interest included transient tachypnea of the newborn, neonatal intensive care unit admission, and small for gestational age and were evaluated for their association with betamethasone exposure while adjusting for covariates using multiple logistic regression.

      Results

      Of 5330 women, 1459 women (27.5%) received betamethasone at a mean gestational age of 32.2±3.3 weeks. The mean age of women was 27±5.9 years and the mean gestational age at delivery was 38.9±1.1 weeks. Women receiving betamethasone had higher rates of maternal comorbidities (P<.001 for diabetes mellitus, asthma, and hypertensive disorder) and were more likely to self-identify as White (P=.022). Betamethasone-exposed neonates had increased rates of transient tachypnea of the newborn, neonatal intensive care unit admission, small for gestational age, hyperbilirubinemia, and hypoglycemia (all, P<.05). Controlling for maternal characteristics and gestational age at delivery, betamethasone exposure was not associated with a diagnosis of transient tachypnea of the newborn (adjusted odds ratio, 1.10; 95% confidence interval, 0.80–1.51), although it was associated with more neonatal intensive care unit admissions (adjusted odds ratio, 1.49; 95% confidence interval, 1.19–1.86) and higher odds of the baby being small for gestational age (adjusted odds ratio, 1.78; 95% confidence interval, 1.48–2.14).

      Conclusion

      Compared with women evaluated for preterm labor who did not receive betamethasone, women receiving betamethasone had infants with higher rates of neonatal intensive care unit admission and small for gestational age. Although the benefits of betamethasone to infants born preterm are clear, there may be negative impacts for infants delivered at term.

      Key words

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