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J Perinatol. 2006 Mar;26(3):147-53.

Antenatal betamethasone treatment has a persisting influence on infant HPA axis regulation.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA 92868, USA. edavis@uci.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the consequences of antenatal betamethasone (AB) exposure on postnatal stress regulation.

STUDY DESIGN:

Fourteen AB exposed infants born at 28-30 weeks' gestation were assessed in the NICU during postnatal week 1 and at 34 weeks postconception. Nine infants born at 34 weeks gestation without AB treatment were evaluated as a postconceptional age comparison group. Salivary cortisol, heart rate, and behavior were measured at baseline and in response to a heelstick blood draw.

RESULTS:

Repeated measures ANOVAs revealed that both groups displayed an increase in heart rate and behavioral distress in response to the stressor. The cortisol response, however, was blunted in AB-treated infants at both assessments.

CONCLUSION:

AB treatment has consequences for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation that persist for at least four to six weeks after birth, indicating that studies of long-term effects are warranted.

PMID:
16467857
DOI:
10.1038/sj.jp.7211447
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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