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Repeated Fetal Betamethasone Treatment and Birth Weight and Head Circumference

SHELTON, STUART D. MD; BOGGESS, KIM A. MD; MURTHA, AMY P. MD; GROFF, AMY O. MD; HERBERT, WILLIAM N. P. MD

Original Research

Objective To assess the effect of repeated courses of betamethasone on birth weight and head circumference.

Methods We conducted a historical cohort study of inpatients receiving betamethasone therapy over 5 years. We compared birth weights and head circumferences of infants whose mothers received one course of betamethasone with those of infants whose mothers received multiple courses. Multiple regression analysis was used to adjust for potential confounding variables. Sufficient power (80%) existed to detect a 20% difference between the groups (α = 0.05).

Results Mean birth weights (±SD) were 1717 ± 707 g in the single-course group (n = 107) and 1783 ± 647 g in the multiple-course group (n = 45) (P = .59, Student t-test). Mean head circumference was 28.2 ± 3.6 cm in the single-course group and 29.2 ± 2.9 cm in the multiple-course group (P = .15, Student t-test). In regression analysis, birth weights (1757 g and 1752 g) and head circumferences (28.5 cm and 29.0 cm) did not differ significantly different between the single-course and multiple-course groups.

Conclusion Multiple courses of betamethasone do not reduce birth weight or head circumference in neonates compared with single-course therapy.

Birth weight and head circumference are not affected by single or repeated courses of antenatal betamethasone.

Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Address reprint requests to: Stuart D. Shelton, MD, Darnall Loop, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Darnall Army Community Hospital, Ft. Hood, TX 76544-5063. E-mail: stuart.shelton@amedd.army.mil

The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

Received May 9, 2000. Received in revised form August 8, 2000. Accepted October 5, 2000.

© 2001 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists