The present study was part of a larger study investigating the long-term development of children of mothers included in a controlled trial of betamethasone therapy in preterm labor; the purpose was to determine whether there are any benefits or hazards of treatment detectable up to the seventh year of life. The first 318 children of mothers included in the trial because of spontaneous premature labor were selected for study. Of 305 survivors, 258 (84.6%) were included in this phase of the study. Detailed tests of psychological development, together with assessments of psychosocial background, were made during the fifth year. Of the 258 children 144 were in the betamethasone group and 114 were control patients. Despite a heavy weighting of the betamethasone group with more prematurely delivered infants and more boys (resulting from improved perinatal survival of these children associated with betamethasone therapy), no significant differences emerged between the groups in measures of outcome. It was concluded that betamethasone therapy, under the conditions of the original trial, was not hazardous to cognitive development as measured in this study.
- Received February 17, 1981.
- Accepted July 9, 1981.
- Copyright © 1981 by the American Academy of Pediatrics