Steroids use in preemies linked to cerebral palsy  According to a multi study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), steroids used to improve the lung development of premature babies could actually increase their risk for cerebral palsy.

Steroids, specifically, a corticosteroid called betamethasone is a drug that has shown to decrease neonatal mortality. It is given to women at risk of giving birth prematurely in order to hasten the development of the baby’s lungs.

Obstetrician – gynecologists often practice repeated course of steroids administration every week of up to 10 to 11 times. However, NIH representatives were so concerned with the safety that they wanted to limit the repeated courses for patients enrolled in clinical trials.

A study was performed by the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Network involving infants from the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and 12 other sites around the country. Multiple courses of steroids were given to mothers and by the time the children reached the age of two or three years old, it was found that 6 out of 248 children in the treatment group were diagnosed with cerebral palsy while only 1 out of 238 children in the placebo group was diagnosed with the disease.

Dr. Wapner, head of the study advised that doctors multiple doses of steroids should not be administered since it could potentially do more harm than good.