How Does Antenatal Betamethasone Exposure Affect Pediatric Bone Mass?

Whole-body bone mineral content was similar in children exposed to antenatal betamethasone and placebo.
Whole-body bone mineral content was similar in children exposed to antenatal betamethasone and placebo.

HealthDay News — Exposure to repeat doses of antenatal betamethasone is not associated with alterations in bone mass in mid-childhood compared with a single course of glucocorticoids, according to a study published online in Pediatrics.

Christopher J.D. McKinlay, PhD, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues randomized women at risk for preterm birth to a single dose of betamethasone or placebo at 7 or more days after an initial course of glucocorticoids, repeated each week that they remained at risk. 

Children were assessed with whole-body dual-energy radiograph absorption at a corrected age of 6 to 8 years. One hundred eighty-five of 212 eligible childhood survivors were assessed (91 repeat betamethasone group; 94 placebo group).

The researchers found that whole-body bone mineral content was similar for children exposed to repeat antenatal betamethasone and those exposed to placebo (553 and 567 g, respectively; geometric mean ratio, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.94-1.03; P =.55), as was bone area (832 and 822 cm², respectively; geometric mean ratio, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.92-1.07; P =.75).

"Exposure to repeat doses of antenatal betamethasone compared with a single course of glucocorticoids does not alter bone mass in mid-childhood," the authors write.

Reference

McKinlay CJD, Cutfield WS, Battin MR, Dalziel SR, Crowther CA, Harding JE; for the ACTORDS Follow-up Group. Mid-childhood bone mass after exposure to repeat doses of antenatal glucocorticoids: a randomized trial [published online April 7, 2017]. Pediatrics. doi: 10.1542.peds.2016-4250

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