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Reprod Sci. 2009 Jun;16(6):527-38. doi: 10.1177/1933719109332821. Epub 2009 Mar 10.

Antenatal glucocorticoid treatment of the growth-restricted fetus: benefit or cost?

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Sansom Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


Women at risk of preterm labor are commonly treated with antenatal glucocorticoids to reduce neonatal complications, including respiratory distress syndrome. Despite the benefits of antenatal glucocorticoid for neonatal lung function, they are associated with negative cardiovascular outcomes. Among this population, there is a group of intrauterine growth-restricted fetuses in which substrate supply is reduced and these fetuses must undergo a range of cardiovascular adaptations to survive. Interestingly, the cardiovascular changes caused by antenatal glucocorticoid in normally grown fetuses are contrary to the cardiovascular adaptations that the intrauterine growth-restricted fetus must make to survive. Hence, the possibility exists that antenatal glucocorticoid in intrauterine growth-restricted infants may compromise cardiovascular development. This review first provides an overview of general antenatal glucocorticoid effects, before outlining the effects on cardiorespiratory development in normally grown fetuses, the cardiovascular adaptations that occur in the intrauterine growth-restricted fetus and finally integrating this with the very limited evidence for the effect of antenatal glucocorticoid in intrauterine growth-restricted infants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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