Repeated Corticosteroids lead to Cerebral Palsy in Premature InfantsAccording to a multi-center study, it was found that a drug’s repeated courses used mainly for the improvement of survival conditions of unborn premature babies might increase the risk of cerebral palsy in those children. The study was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health and was also funded by the Institute.

The research was funded by the Institute and led by Ronald Wapner, physician and professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Columbia University Medical Center. Performed by members of the NIH-sponsored Maternal-Fetal Medicine Network, the study followed a total of 556 infants, aged two to three, at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia and 12 other sites around the country. Infants were divided into two groups: placebo group and multiple doses group.

During the research, it was found that six out of 248 children who received multiple courses of corticosteroids had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy in comparison to only 1 out of 238 children in the placebo group. It was also revealed that mother of those six diagnosed children had received four or more courses of the drug.

Dr. Wapner said, “Although the difference in number of children with cerebral palsy was not statistically significant.” He also added that though weekly courses had no long-term benefits, but might harm the child, doctors should not run multiple weekly courses of corticosteroids.

Until the year 2000, obstetrician-gynecologists frequently prescribed repeated course of steroids every week, up to 10 to 11 times, for women, who remained pregnant after the first course. During the same year, a NIH panel suggested that multiple courses should be strictly reserved for patients enrolled in clinical trials.