To evaluate the association of antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) therapy on the risk for cystic periventricular leukomalacia (c-PVL) in very low birth weight (VLBW), very preterm infants, whilst accounting for the occurrence of major neonatal morbidities; sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, intraventricular haemorrhage and bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
Population-based observational cohort study applying data collected by the Israel national VLBW infant database from 1995-2016.
Cystic PVL was diagnosed in 692 (6.8%) of the 10,170 study infants. Among 7,522 infants exposed to ACS, the rate of c-PVL was 5.4%, compared to 10.7% among those not exposed (p<0.0001). ACS was associated with significantly lower odds for c-PVL (Odds Ratio [OR] 0.69, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 0.57-0.84). In subgroup analyses, excluding infants with one or more morbidities the rates of c-PVL ranged from 2.7% to 5.4% among infants exposed to ACS compared to 5.6% to 10.7% in those not exposed (all p<0.0001). ACS was associated with significantly lower OR's for c-PVL in all subgroups, ranging from 0.52 (95% CI 0.40-0.66) to 0.62 (95% CI 0.50-0.77).
Infants exposed to ACS had a significantly lower risk of c-PVL. Subgroup analyses excluding infants with major neonatal comorbidities showed a consistent reduction of 40-50% in the risk for c-PVL following ACS therapy.