Very preterm infants who develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia are often treated with dexamethasone (DEXA) to wean them from the ventilator. As DEXA has growth-suppressive and catabolic effects, which might have long-term consequences on growth and organ development, we investigated whether high-dose GH treatment could overcome these effects. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 30 ventilated very low birth weight infants were assigned to receive either GH or placebo treatment after start of DEXA. DEXA was given for 24 d (starting dose 0.5 mg . kg(-1) . d(-1), tapering off every third day). Simultaneously, high-dose GH (0.3 mg . kg(-1) . d(-1)) or placebo was administered during 6 wk. During high-dose DEXA treatment (dose 0.5-0.3 mg . kg(-1) . d(-1)), no gain in head circumference, weight, crown-heel length, and knee-heel length occurred in the GH and placebo groups. Growth during the 6-wk study period was not different between the GH and the placebo groups. Two patients in the placebo group died, but the number and the severity of adverse effects was not statistically different between the GH and placebo groups. In conclusion, high-dose GH treatment did not improve growth in DEXA-treated very preterm infants and thus cannot be recommended to prevent growth failure in these infants. During high-dose DEXA, a complete growth arrest occurred, including stunting of head growth. Growth in head circumference and weight with lower dose DEXA was comparable to growth after discontinuation of DEXA.

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Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Huysman, M., Hop, W., Cromme-Dijkhuis, A., Sauer, P., & Hokken-Koelega, A. (2005). A randomized, placebo-controlled GH trial in very preterm infants who were at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia and were treated with dexamethasone. Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology, 58(4), 705–712. doi:10.1203/01.PDR.0000180567.94279.AE