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Cord Blood Cortisol Level - A Possible Predictor for Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Preterm Neonates.

BACKGROUND: Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) is a leading cause of death in premature infants. There are different clinical/ biochemical markers associated with the RDS. One of the potential biochemical markers is cortisol in cord blood.

PURPOSE: This study aims to correlate cortisol levels in preterm neonates with RDS and to establish whether cord blood cortisol is a reliable predictor for RDS.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This prospective analytical study was conducted in a tertiary care hospital over nine months among fifty preterm neonates. Data were collected using proforma, and cord blood was collected at the time of delivery. Cortisol levels were compared and correlated to the development of RDS.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The mean ± SD cord blood cortisol level among preterm neonates was 5.97 ± 2.74 (SD) μg/dl. The levels were higher in neonates whose mothers received antenatal steroids and were significantly lower (2.86 ± 1.66 μg/dl) in those who developed RDS. Association between cord blood cortisol level and RDS was found with an odds ratio of 57.4, which was statistically significant. The percentage of babies developing RDS in mothers not covered with antenatal steroids was significantly higher than those covered (p-value is 0.000). The mean cord blood cortisol levels were exceptionally low (1.89 μg/dl) in neonates who expired compared to those who survived (7.02 μg/dl).

CONCLUSION: There is an association between cord blood cortisol levels and RDS. Hence, Cord blood cortisol levels may be used to predict RDS and help initiate early treatment, thus preventing mortality and morbidity.

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