We conducted a comparative study to evaluate whether early (4-7 days of age) low-dose dexamethasone (DEX) therapy in preterm infants with surfactant-pretreated respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) would facilitate extubation and improve the clinical outcome. Twenty-six preterm infants with surfactant-pretreated RDS who were oxygen- and ventilator-dependent at 4 days of postnatal age were enrolled. Twelve infants were in the historical comparison group, and 14 infants were assigned to receive DEX 0.125 mg/kg i.v., every 12 h, for a total of 6 doses. At study entry, the two groups had a comparable clinical status. DEX therapy significantly facilitated weaning from mechanical ventilation (median interval, 6 vs. 24 days, p < 0.005) and shortened duration of oxygen supplementation (9 vs. 28 days, p < 0.05) as compared with the historical comparison group. At 28 days of age, the occurrence of chronic lung disease (CLD) was significantly lower (1/14 vs. 6/12, p < 0.05) and there was a significant decrease in the incidence of ventilator dependence (0/14 vs. 5/12, p < 0.05) in the DEX group. DEX therapy did not influence the incidence of significant complications such as infection, periventricular leukomalacia or retinopathy of prematurity. We conclude that in a selected high-risk group of preterm infants, early low-dose DEX treatment results in improvement in pulmonary outcome without significant side effects.
- Chronic lung disease
- Early dexamethasone therapy
- Preterm infants
- Respiratory distress syndrome
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental Biology