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J Pediatr. 1999 Jul;135(1):65-70.

Adrenal function in premature infants during inhaled beclomethasone therapy.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Newborn Medicine, The Floating Hospital for Children at New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.



We tested the hypothesis that inhaled beclomethasone therapy for prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia does not cause adrenal suppression.


Infants receiving ventilatory support with birth weights </=1250 g and born at <33 weeks' gestation, age 3 to 14 days, were enrolled in a multicenter randomized trial to study the efficacy and safety of beclomethasone therapy versus placebo for prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Adrenal function was assessed on study day 21 (+/- 2 days) by determination of basal and stimulated plasma cortisol levels. Initially, cortisol response was assessed with insulin-induced hypoglycemia test (IIHT) (n = 63) until an interim analysis revealed insignificant cortisol response in both study groups. Thereafter, cosyntropin stimulation was used (n = 85).


Beclomethasone therapy was associated with lower median basal cortisol levels (5 microg/dL beclomethasone, 6 microg/dL placebo, P =.04). IIHT revealed insignificant change in cortisol response within each group. Cortisol response to cosyntropin stimulation was similar for each group (17 microg/dL beclomethasone, 18 microg/dL placebo, P =.86).


Beclomethasone therapy was associated with a small decrease in basal cortisol levels. There was no evidence of adrenal suppression in response to cosyntropin stimulation during beclomethasone therapy. Lack of cortisol response to hypoglycemia may reflect missed timing and/or decreased response of the premature infants' hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to hypoglycemia.

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