Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Steroid injections for premature babies linked to mental health risk

Date:
November 23, 2013
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Steroid injections given to pregnant women before premature birth may increase the child’s risk of later behavioural and emotional difficulties, a study has found.

Steroid injections given to pregnant women before premature birth may increase the child’s risk of later behavioural and emotional difficulties, a study has found.

Related Articles


Mothers who are expected to give birth prematurely are often given an infusion of glucocorticoids, which mimic the natural hormone cortisol. This treatment is vital for helping the baby’s lungs mature, but the new research suggests it may also increase the risk of mental health problems including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is the most common behavioural disorder in young people in the UK.

The study, by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Oulu, Finland, is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Cortisol is produced in the fetus in the late stages of pregnancy to help the lungs develop, preparing the baby for life outside the womb. Lung problems are common in premature babies, and can cause life-threatening breathing difficulties. Synthetic glucocorticoids, which replicate the effects of natural cortisol, are given in anticipation of preterm birth to reduce the risk of these problems.

There has been some concern that exposure to high levels of glucocorticoids in the womb might have harmful long-term effects on brain development. Scientists have previously established a link between stress in pregnancy and symptoms of ADHD in children. As cortisol is produced as a response to stress, it has been suggested that cortisol may be responsible for this link.

The researchers studied 37 children who were exposed to synthetic glucocorticoids before birth and compared them to 185 children who were born at the same gestational age but did not have glucocorticoid treatment. A much larger comparison group of 6079 children, matched carefully on pregnancy and infant characteristics, was also examined to confirm the findings.

The children who had the treatment had poorer scores on general mental health at ages eight and 16, and were more likely to show symptoms of ADHD.

Alina Rodriguez, the senior author of the study, Visiting Professor at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: “There are a lot of studies that have found links between stress in pregnancy and effects on children’s mental health, especially ADHD, and this might be related to cortisol.

“Synthetic glucocorticoids mimic the biological reaction when the mother is stressed, so we wanted to see if babies who were exposed to this treatment are affected similarly in terms of mental health outcomes.

 “This study suggests there may also be long-term risks for the child’s mental health. Although this is the largest study so far to look at these risks, the number of children in our group who were exposed to glucocorticoids was still relatively small. More studies will be needed to confirm the findings.

“We would like to reassure parents that in light of all available evidence to date, the benefits of steroid treatment on immediate infant health and survival are well-established and outweigh any possible risk of long-term behavioural/emotional difficulties. Parents who are concerned that their child may be affected by behavioural or emotional difficulties should in the first instance contact their GP for advice.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Natasha Khalife, Vivette Glover, Anja Taanila, Hanna Ebeling, Marjo-Riitta Järvelin, Alina Rodriguez. Prenatal Glucocorticoid Treatment and Later Mental Health in Children and Adolescents. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (11): e81394 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081394

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Steroid injections for premature babies linked to mental health risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131123195028.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2013, November 23). Steroid injections for premature babies linked to mental health risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131123195028.htm
Imperial College London. "Steroid injections for premature babies linked to mental health risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131123195028.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins