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Prenatal Dexametasone treatment of children at risk for congenital adrenal hyperplasia affects cognitive functions.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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2007 (English)In: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol. 92, 542-548 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Sweden, during 1985-1995, 40 foetuses at risk for congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) were treated with dexamethasone (DEX) in order to prevent virilisation of affected females. We report long-term effects on neuropsychological functions and scholastic performance of this controversial treatment.

Prenatally treated children, 7-17 years, were assessed with standardized neuropsychological tests (NEPSY and WISC-III) and child-completed questionnaires measuring self-perceived scholastic competence (SPPC). A parent-completed questionnaire (CBCL/4-18 School Scale) was used to evaluate whether the treatment had any impact on the children’s school performance.

Of 40 DEX treated children, 26 (median age 11 years) participated in the study. Thirty-five sex- and age matched healthy children were controls. There were no between-group differences concerning psychometric intelligence, measures of cerebral lateralization, memory encoding, and long term memory. Short term treated, CAH unaffected children performed worse than the control group on a test assessing verbal working memory (p=0.003), and on self-perception of scholastic competence (p=0.003). Prenatally treated, CAH affected children performed poorer than controls on tests measuring verbal processing speed, although this difference disappeared when controlling for the child’s Full-Scale IQ (FSIQ).

This study indicates that prenatal DEX treatment is associated with previously not described long-term effects on verbal working memory and certain aspects of self-perception that could be related to poorer verbal working memory. These findings may thus question future DEX treatment of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Therefore, we encourage additional retrospective studies of larger cohorts to either confirm or challenge the present findings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The Endocrine Society , 2007. Vol. 92, 542-548 p.
Keyword [en]
prenatal treatment, dexamethasone, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, cognitive functions, neuropsychological evaluation
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7302OAI: diva2:198019
Available from: 2008-01-14 Created: 2008-01-14 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved

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