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Journal of Pregnancy
Volume 2012, Article ID 751694, 9 pages
Review Article

Glucocorticoids and Preterm Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Injury: The Good and the Bad

Fetal Physiology and Neuroscience Group, Department of Physiology, The University of Auckland, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

Received 27 March 2012; Accepted 13 July 2012

Academic Editor: Janna Morrison

Copyright © 2012 Laura Bennet et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Fetuses at risk of premature delivery are now routinely exposed to maternal treatment with synthetic glucocorticoids. In randomized clinical trials, these substantially reduce acute neonatal systemic morbidity, and mortality, after premature birth and reduce intraventricular hemorrhage. However, the overall neurodevelopmental impact is surprisingly unclear; worryingly, postnatal glucocorticoids are consistently associated with impaired brain development. We review the clinical and experimental evidence on how glucocorticoids may affect the developing brain and highlight the need for systematic research.