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1.  Elevated nerve growth factor and neurotrophin-3 levels in cerebrospinal fluid of children with hydrocephalus 
BMC Pediatrics  2001;1:2.
Background
Elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) resulting from impaired drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) causes hydrocephalus with damage to the central nervous system. Clinical symptoms of elevated intracranial pressure (ICP) in infants may be difficult to diagnose, leading to delayed treatment by shunt placement. Until now, no biochemical marker of elevated ICP has been available for clinical diagnosis and monitoring. In experimental animal models, nerve growth factor (NGF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) have been shown to be produced by glial cells as an adaptive response to hypoxia. We investigated whether concentrations of NGF and NT-3 are increased in the CSF of children with hydrocephalus.
Methods
NGF was determined in CSF samples collected from 42 hydrocephalic children on 65 occasions (taps or shunt placement surgery). CSF samples obtained by lumbar puncture from 22 children with suspected, but unconfirmed bacterial infection served as controls. Analysis was performed using ELISA techniques.
Results
NGF concentrations in hydrocephalic children were over 50-fold increased compared to controls (median 225 vs 4 pg/mL, p < 0.0001). NT-3 was detectable (> 1 pg/mL) in 14/31 hydrocephalus samples at 2–51 pg/mL but in none of 11 control samples (p = 0.007).
Conclusion
NGF and NT-3 concentrations are increased in children with hydrocephalus. This may represent an adaptive response of the brain to elevated ICP.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-1-2
PMCID: PMC57003  PMID: 11580868
2.  The adverse neuro-developmental effects of postnatal steroids in the preterm infant: a systematic review of RCTs 
BMC Pediatrics  2001;1:1.
Background
Recent reports have raised concerns that postnatal steroids may cause neuro-developmental impairment in preterm infants. This systematic review was performed with the objective of determining whether glucocorticoid therapy, to prevent or treat bronchopulmonary dysplasia, impairs neuro-developmental outcomes in preterm infants.
Method
A systematic review of the literature was performed. Medline was searched and articles retrieved using predefined criteria. Data from randomized controlled trials with adequate neuro-developmental follow up (to at least one year) were entered into a meta-analysis to determine the effects of postnatal treatment of preterm infants with glucocorticoids. Cerebral palsy rates, and neuro-developmental impairment (developmental score more than 2SD below the mean, or cerebral palsy or blindness) were analyzed. The studies were divided into 2 groups according to the extent of contamination of the results by treatment of controls with steroids after the initial study period, those with less than 30% contamination, and those with more than 30% contamination or size of contamination not reported.
Results
Postnatal steroid therapy is associated with an increase in cerebral palsy and neuro-developmental impairment. The studies with less contamination show a greater effect of the steroids, consistent with a real direct toxic effect of steroids on the developing central nervous system. The typical relative risk for the development of cerebral palsy derived from studies with less than 30% contamination is 2.86 (95% CI 1.95, 4.19). The typical relative risk for the development of neuro-developmental disability among followed up infants from studies with less than 30% contamination is 1.66 (95% CI 1.26, 2.19). From this subgroup of studies, the number of premature infants who need to be treated to have one more infant with cerebral palsy (number needed to harm, NNH) is 7; to have one more infant with neuro-developmental impairment the NNH is 11.
Conclusions
Postnatal pharmacologic steroid treatment for prevention or treatment of bronchopulmonary dysplasia is associated with dramatic increases in neuro-developmental impairment. As there is no clear evidence in the literature of long term benefit, their use for this indication should be abandoned.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-1-1
PMCID: PMC29104  PMID: 11248841

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