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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD001969.

Early administration of inhaled corticosteroids for preventing chronic lung disease in ventilated very low birth weight preterm neonates.

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Mount Sinai Hospital, Department of Paediatrics, Room 775A, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1X5.



Chronic lung disease remains a common complication among preterm infants. There is increasing evidence that inflammation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of CLD. Due to their strong anti-inflammatory properties, corticosteroids are an attractive intervention strategy. However, there are growing concerns regarding short and long-term effects of systemic corticosteroids. Theoretically, administration of inhaled corticosteroids may allow for beneficial effects on the pulmonary system with a lower risk of undesirable systemic side effects.


To determine the impact of inhaled corticosteroids administered to ventilated very low birth weight preterm neonates in the first two weeks of life for the prevention of chronic lung disease (CLD).


Randomized and quasi-randomized trials were identified by searching the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2007), MEDLINE (1966 - July 2007), EMBASE (1980 - July 2007), CINAHL (1982 - July 2007), reference lists of published trials and abstracts published in Pediatric Research or electronically on the Pediatric Academic Societies web-site (1990 - April 2007).


Randomized controlled trials of inhaled corticosteroid therapy initiated within the first 2 weeks of life in ventilated preterm infants with birth weight <1500 grams were included in this review.


Data regarding clinical outcomes including chronic lung disease at 28 days or 36 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA), mortality, combined outcome of death or CLD at 28 days of age and at 36 weeks PMA, the need for systemic corticosteroids, failure to extubate within 14 days and adverse effects of corticosteroids were evaluated. All data were analyzed using RevMan 4.2.10. When possible, meta-analysis was performed using relative risk (RR), risk difference (RD), along with their 95% confidence intervals (CI). If RD was significant, the number needed to treat (NNT) was calculated.


Three additional trials were identified for inclusion in this update. Eleven trials assessing the impact of inhaled corticosteroid for the prevention of CLD were identified. Four trials were excluded. The present review includes data analyses based on seven qualifying trials. There was no statistically significant effect of inhaled steroids on CLD either at 28 days [typical RR 1.05 (95% CI 0.84, 1.32); typical RD 0.02 (95% CO -0.07, 0.11)] or at 36 weeks PMA [typical RR 0.97 (95% CI 0.62, 1.52); typical RD 0.00 (95% CI -0.07, 0.06)], when analyzed either for all randomized infants or among survivors. No statistically significant differences were noted for mortality or for the combined outcome of mortality and CLD either at 28 days of age or at 36 weeks PMA. There were no statistically significant differences in adverse events between groups.


Based on this updated review, there is no evidence from the trials reviewed that early administration (in the first two weeks of life) of inhaled steroids to ventilated preterm neonates was effective in reducing the incidence of CLD. Currently, use of inhaled steroids in this population cannot be recommended. Studies are needed to identify the risk/benefit ratio of different delivery techniques and dosing schedules for the administration of these medications. Studies need to address both the short-term and long-term benefits and adverse effects of inhaled steroids with particular attention to neurodevelopmental outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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