Antenatal corticosteroids increase fetal, but not postnatal, pulmonary blood flow in sheep

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The lungs of very preterm infants have immature airways and gas exchange structures and are usually surfactant deficient. Antenatal corticosteroids are commonly used to enhance fetal lung maturation in preterm infants, but little is known of their effects on pulmonary blood flow (PBF) before and immediately after birth. Our aim was to determine the effects of antenatal betamethasone on PBF before birth and during the postnatal transition in very preterm lambs. Antenatal betamethasone treatment significantly increased mean fetal PBF from 20.2 +/- 5.1 mL/min to 84.3 +/- 18.3 mL/min at 30 hrs after administration; the PBF waveform was also significantly altered. Mean (+/- SEM) diastolic PBF increased from -38.5 +/- 4.9 mL/min pre-treatment to -10.2 +/- 11.0 mL/min at approximately 36hrs after the initial betamethasone dose (negative values indicate retrograde flow away from the lungs). Within 10 min after delivery, PBF was similar in control and betamethasone treated lambs. These data demonstrate that antenatal betamethasone significantly increases fetal PBF and alters the PBF waveform, but has little effect on postnatal PBF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283 - 288
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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