Risk of Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Efficacy of Glucocorticoids: Are They the Same in the Normally Grown and Growth-Restricted Infant?

Erin V. McGillick, Sandra Orgeig, Marie T. Williams, Janna L. Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Administration of glucocorticoids (GCs) to women at risk of preterm delivery reduces the newborn's risk of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) by 35% to 40%; however, not all infants respond to this treatment. Fetal growth restriction (FGR) increases the risk of prematurity, perinatal morbidity, and mortality. This review aims to synthesize current evidence reporting the difference in RDS risk between FGR and normally grown infants (Question 1) and whether antenatal GC administration reduces the risk of RDS morbidity in FGR infants (Question 2). Systematic searches were performed, and after screening, a total of 27 and 9 citations were eligible for inclusion for Questions 1 and 2, respectively. In order to answer the two questions, odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for all studies. The evidence was equivocal for a difference in risk of RDS in FGR compared with normally grown infants. Despite antenatal GC administration, there was evidence suggesting that the risk of RDS persists in FGR infants. The range of risk of RDS morbidity observed between studies is likely influenced by the definitions (RDS and FGR), gestational age, and small sample sizes of FGR infants evaluated. In addition, RDS morbidity may be related to the heterogeneous nature of FGR etiologies (including maternal, placental, and/or fetal factors). Further understanding of RDS morbidity and responsiveness to current treatments in FGR infants at a range of gestational ages, larger sample sizes, and stratification according to the specific etiology of FGR, may lead to improved respiratory outcomes at birth in this obstetric subpopulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1472
Number of pages14
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • fetus
  • glucocorticoids
  • intrauterine growth restriction
  • respiratory distress syndrome

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