- Antenatal exposure to betamethasone might be associated with early childhood mental health problems in both, children born preterm and those born at term.
- Betamethasone-exposed children had higher prevalence of mental health, psychological development (particularly speech and language) and behavioural and emotional disorders.
Why this matters
- In case of impending preterm birth, synthetic glucocorticoids are a standard treatment for enhanced foetal maturation.
- While benefits of synthetic glucocorticoids may outweigh potential harms in children born preterm, evidence regarding its effect when pregnancy continues to term (⩾37 gestational weeks) is limited.
- Study evaluated 4708 women and their children, born between 2006 and 2010 in Finland, from the PREDO (Prediction and Prevention of Pre-eclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction) study.
- Information on antenatal betamethasone treatment and child mental and behavioural disorders from birth to December 2016 was obtained from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register.
- Funding: PREDO study funded by Academy of Finland.
- Betamethasone-exposed vs non-exposed children had higher prevalence of:
- any mental and behavioural disorder (aOR, 2.76; P<.001>
- psychological development disorders (aOR, 3.61; P<.001>
- behavioural and emotional disorders (aOR, 3.29; P<.001 and>
- comorbid disorders (aOR, 6.04; P<.001>
- Limited generalisability.
- Number of children exposed to betamethasone prenatally was relatively small.