Steroids That Help Preemies Breathe May Harm Their Brains
Steroids givenِ to premature babies toِ helpِ them breathe andِ maintain normal blood pressure mayِ impair theِ development ofِ a part ofِ their brains, a newِ study shows.
Researchers foundِ that premature babies treated withِ theِ steroid drugs hydrocortisone orِ dexamethasone hadِ cerebellums thatِ were 10 percent smaller thanِ those ofِ normal newborns.
I wouldn’tِ wantِ toِ sayِ that weِ justِ shouldn’t useِ theseِ steroids toِ helpِ preemies, saidِ Dr.
The effects of steroids
Research inِ animals ofِ differentِ types —rats, mice, sheep— hasِ shown thatِ ifِ these drugs areِ given toِ a developing animal, thereِ isِ cell death orِ impaired growth inِ the cerebellum, Tam said.
However, research inِ premature babies hasِ beenِ less conclusive, andِ the American Academy ofِ Pediatrics (AAP) hasِ goneِ backِ andِ forth onِ itsِ recommendations forِ the useِ theِ drugs.
In theِ newِ study, theِ researchers looked atِ the effects ofِ betamethasone, dexamethasone andِ hydrocortisone onِ 172 premature babies admitted toِ theِ intensive care nurseries atِ UCSF andِ the University ofِ British Columbia betweenِ 2006 andِ 2009.
The results place clinicians inِ a difficult conundrum — theِ steroids canِ improve lung function, butِ they couldِ have drastic effects onِ the brain, saidِ Kevin Noguchi, a professor ofِ psychiatry atِ the Washington University atِ St.
Noguchi, whoِ studies theِ effects ofِ steroids onِ rodent brains, saidِ heِ was surprised byِ the finding thatِ hydrocortisone impaired theِ cerebellum’s growth, becauseِ a protective enzyme inِ the brain canِ break downِ hydrocortisone.
Another possibility wouldِ beِ to find a treatment toِ give withِ theِ steroids thatِ couldِ prevent theِ drugs fromِ affecting theِ brain, butِ not stop themِ fromِ helping theِ lungs.