NIH News Release
Office of the Director

Office of Medical Applications of Research

Friday, August 11, 2000
John Bowersox (OMAR)
(301) 496-4819

Julie Jacob (NICHD)
(301) 496-5133

NIH Consensus Development Conference Will Assess Benefits and Risks of Repeat Courses of Prenatal Steroids

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will hold a Consensus Development Conference titled Antenatal Corticosteroids Revisited: Repeat Courses, August 17-18, 2000, in the NIH Clinical Center's Masur Auditorium, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. A news conference will conclude the 1 ½ day meeting at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, August 18, 2000.

Preterm delivery is a major cause of death and illness in infants. Corticosteroid treatment of pregnant women at risk for delivering prematurely was first introduced in 1972 to enhance fetal lung maturation. Subsequent research has focused on the ability of prenatal glucocorticoids to reduce mortality and brain injury among preterm neonates.

In 1994, a NIH consensus panel concluded, in part, that single course administration of corticosteroids to pregnant women at risk for preterm delivery reduces the risk of death, respiratory distress syndrome, and brain hemorrhage in their preterm infants. The 1994 panel noted, however, that the potential benefits and risks of administering more than one course of antenatal corticosteroids during a pregnancy were unknown and called for additional research on this issue.

The NIH has organized this 1½ day conference to present research on repeat courses of antenatal corticosteroid therapy. After a day of presentations and audience discussion, an independent, non-Federal consensus development panel will weigh the scientific evidence and write a draft statement that will be presented to the audience on the second day. The panel's statement will address these questions:

The panel will present its draft statement to the public for comment at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, August 18. Following this public comment session, the panel will release its revised consensus statement at a news conference at 11:30 a.m. and take questions from the media.

The primary sponsors of this conference are the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Conference co-sponsors include the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The consensus statement is the report of an independent panel and is not a policy statement of the NIH or the Federal Government. The NIH Consensus Development Program was established in 1977 to resolve in an unbiased manner controversial topics in medicine. To date, NIH has conducted 111 such conferences addressing a wide range of controversial medical issues important to health care providers, patients, and the general public.

Additional information about this conference, including the meeting agenda, local area hotels, and directions to NIH, is available at the NIH Consensus Development Program Web site at

NOTE TO RADIO EDITORS: An audio report of the conference results will be available after 4 p.m. August 18, 2000 from the NIH Radio News Service by calling 1-800-MED-DIAL (1-800-633-3425).

The NIH Consensus Development Conference on Antenatal Corticosteroids Revisited: Repeat Courses will be broadcast live on the Internet by NIH Videocasting. Go to the NIH Videocast Web site — — any day during the conference and look for the link to the conference under "Today's Events." Viewing the videocast requires RealPlayer software, which can be downloaded from the NIH Videocast Web site.

If you require any assistance or assistive devices to participate in this conference, please contact Prospect Associates at 301-592-3320, or via e-mail at, at least 48 hours before the conference.