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Lung responses to ultrasound-guided fetal treatments with corticosteroids in preterm lambs
journal contributionposted on 1993-01-01, 00:00 authored by A H Jobe, D Polk, M Ikegami, J Newnham, Peter SlyPeter Sly, R Kohen, R Kelly
Maternal corticosteroid treatments augment lung function in the human preterm infant. However, not all fetuses respond, the response requires ≥48 h of exposure, and multiple maternal doses expose the mother to potential risks. To evaluate the potential of direct fetal therapy, we used ultrasound to direct fetal intramuscular or intravascular injections of corticosteroids or saline in sheep and subsequently delivered the preterm lambs at 128 days gestational age to assess postnatal lung function. Relative to saline- injected controls, 0.5 or 2 mg/kg betamethasone given as a single intramuscular dose 48 h before delivery increased compliance and the efficiency of ventilation (as measured by an indicator that included ventilatory pressures and CO2 values) nearly twofold (P < 0.05). Lung volumes, measured from deflation pressure-volume curves, also increased (P < 0.05). However, the 2 mg/kg dose caused severe pulmonary interstitial emphysema in 5 of 13 lambs, suggesting adverse effects. An intravascular fetal dose of 12.5 mg/kg hydrocortisone or an intramuscular dose of 0.1 mg/kg betamethasone had no effect on postnatal lung function. In separate studies, the 2 mg/kg dose improved all indicators of lung function almost twofold after only 24 h of fetal exposure and delivery at 128 days gestational age (P < 0.01). There was a dose-dependent suppression of the postnatal cortisol surge in treated animals, although fetal treatment did not alter cord cortisol levels. Single-dose fetal hormone treatments can cause large and rapid improvements in postnatal lung function in preterm lambs.