Many preterm infants who survive go on to develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia, probably as the result of persistent inflammation in the lun
gs. Corticosteroids have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and have been used to treat individuals with established bronchopulmonary dysplasia. However, it is unclear whether any beneficial effects outweigh the adverse effects of these drugs.
Benefits of late corticosteroid therapy may not outweigh actual or potential adverse effects. This review of postnatal systemic corticosteroid treatment for bronchopulmonary dysplasia initiated after seven days of age suggests that late therapy may reduce neonatal mortality without significantly increasing the risk of adverse long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes. However, the methodological quality of studies determining long-term outcomes is limited in some cases (some studies assessed surviving children only before school age, when some important neurological outcomes cannot be determined with certainty), and no studies were sufficiently powered to detect increased rates of important adverse long-term neurosensory outcomes. Evidence showing both benefits and harms of treatment and limitations of available evidence suggests that it may be prudent to reserve the use of late corticosteroids for infants who cannot be weaned from mechanical ventilation, and to minimise both dose and duration for any course of treatment.