Antenatal corticosteroid (ACS) administration has been known as one of the most effective treatment in perinatal medicine, but the beneficial effects of ACS may vary not only gestational age, but also the quality of perinatal and neonatal care of the institution.
This nationwide cohort study of the Korean Neonatal Network (KNN) data was consisted of <1,500g infants born at 23–34 weeks at 67 KNN hospitals between 2013 and 2017. The 9,142 eligible infants were assigned into two groups–group 1 and 2 <50% and ≥50% mortality rate, respectively, for 23–24 weeks’ gestation–reflecting the quality of perinatal and neonatal care. Each group of infants were further stratified into 23–24, 25–26, 27–28, and 29–34 weeks of gestation age.
Despite comparable ACS usage between group 1 (82%) and group 2 (81%), the benefits of ACS were only observed in group 1. In the multivariable analyses, infants of group 1 showed significant decrease in mortality and IVH at gestational age 23–24 weeks with ACS use, and the decrease was also seen in early-onset sepsis and respiratory distress syndrome at gestational age of 29–34 weeks while there were no significant decrease in group 2.
In this study the overall data was congruent with the previous findings stating that ACS use decreases mortality and morbidity. These results indicate that the improved mortality of infants at 23–24 weeks’ gestation reflects the quality improvement of perinatal and neonatal intensive care, which is a prerequisite to the benefits of ACS.