Lung Treatment Side Effects. A therapy routinely given to newborns to prevent or treat chronic lung disease may result in slower neuromotor and cognitive functioning by school age.
Previous research shows dexamethasone, a drug known as glucocorticoid, often improves lung function in the short-term and allows for early weaning from mechanical ventilation. Based on their findings, however, Asian investigators suggest physicians should not recommend dexamethasone therapy because of its adverse effects.
severe respiratory distress syndrome
All of the infants in the study had severe respiratory distress syndrome that required mechanical ventilation shortly after birth. Out of 146 children, 72 were given .25 milligrams of dexamethasone per kilogram of body weight intravenously every 12 hours for one week. Then, the dose was tapered over the next three weeks.
Results of the study show children in the dexamethasone group had significantly poorer motor skills, motor coordination and visual-motor integration than those who did not receive the therapy. Children in the dexamethasone group were also significantly shorter, had smaller head circumferences, and lower IQ scores than those in the control group.
The frequency of clinical disabilities was higher among children in the dexamethasone group. In addition, children who received therapy had significantly lower scores on arithmetic, reading, writing and grammar tests than those in the control group.