Early postnatal doses of dexamethasone, commonly prescribed to reduce risk of chronic lung disease in premature infants, does not reduce risk of the disease but does increase risk of intestinal perforation, according to the largest study of its kind, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
Earlier studies suggested that dexamethasone given 24 to 48 hours after birth reduced risk of chronic lung disease. However, infants in these studies were typically given large dosages of the drug, which interfered with their growth and increased their blood glucose levels and blood pressure.
Vastag B. Neonatal Lung Treatment Risk. JAMA. 2001;285(7):874. doi:10.1001/jama.285.7.874-JHA10001-3-1