Postnatal administration of corticosteroids for treatment and prevention of chronic lung disease such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a widespread practice and to date there have been no adequate analyses of long-term adverse effects. According to a meta-analysis just published in BMC Pediatrics, postnatal steroid treatment is associated with dramatic increases in neuro-developmental impairment and steroid use to prevent or treat bronchopulmonary dysplasia should be abandoned (BMC Pediatrics 2001, 1:1).

Keith Barrington from Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, did a systematic review of the literature and found eight randomized controlled trials with at least one year neuro-developmental follow-up. Analysis of the combined data from these trials showed a high relative risk for the development of cerebral palsy after steroid treatment (2.86; 95% CI 1.95, 4.19) and also for the development of neuro-developmental disability (1.66; 95% CI 1.26, 2.19).

The author, who was among the first to suggest postnatal...

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