Prenatal administration of glucocorticoids has been shown to decrease the incidence and severity of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants, but little is known regarding the immediate economic impact of this reduction in respiratory morbidity. This study retrospectively examined 342 infants born during 1978 and 1979 and hospitalized in the University of Minnesota Hospitals. Comparison of survival and the hospital charges for infants whose mothers had or had not received prenatal glucocorticoid therapy showed that administration of glucocorticoids had a significant effect in lowering mortality in infants with birth weights between 750 and 1,249 gm (27 to 29 weeks' gestation). Glucocorticoid therapy was also effective in decreasing morbidity as reflected by hospital charges of surviving infants with birth weights between 1,250 and 1,749 gm (30 to 32 weeks' gestation). In both steroid-treated and nontreated mothers, prolongation of gestation decreases hospital charges in a linear fashion. The noted decrease in hsopital costs should not justify prenatal glucocorticoid administration but should stimulate examination of long-term effects of the drug on surviving infants.
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|Published - 1981