Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in preterm infants remains a major health burden despite many therapeutic interventions. Inhaled corticosteroids (IC) may be a safe and effective therapy.


To assess the safety and efficacy of IC for prevention or treatment of BPD or death in preterm infants.


PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, and CINAHL from their inception until November 2015 together with other relevant sources.


Randomized controlled trials of ICs versus placebo for either prevention or treatment of BPD.


This meta-analysis used a random-effects model with assessment of quality of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system.


Thirty-eight trials were identified, and 16 met inclusion criteria. ICs were associated with a significant reduction in death or BPD at 36 weeks’ postmenstrual age (risk ratio [RR] = 0.86, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.75 to 0.99, I2 = 0%, P = .03; 6 trials, n = 1285). BPD was significantly reduced (RR = 0.77, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.91, I2 = 0%, 7 trials, n = 1168), although there was no effect on death (RR = 0.97, 95% CI 0.42 to 2.2, I2 = 50%, 7 trials, n = 1270). No difference was found for death or BPD at 28 days’ postnatal age. The use of systemic steroids was significantly reduced in treated infants (13 trials, n = 1537, RR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.98 I2 = 3%,). No significant differences were found in neonatal morbidities and other adverse events.


Long-term follow-up data are awaited from a recent large randomized controlled trial.


Very preterm infants appear to benefit from ICs with reduced risk for BPD and no effect on death, other morbidities, or adverse events. Data on long-term respiratory, growth, and developmental outcomes are eagerly awaited.

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