Clinical risk factors for the development of late-onset circulatory collapse in premature infants

Kathleen C. Marinelli, Elizabeth R. Lyden, Eric S. Peeples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Very low birth weight (VLBW) infants may be at risk for late-onset circulatory collapse (LCC) where otherwise stable infants develop hypotension resistant to vasoactive agents. The risk factors for LCC development are poorly defined, and it has been theorized that it may be in part due to withdrawal from exogenous prenatal steroids. The goal of this study was to define the clinical characteristics of LCC and investigate its association with antenatal steroid administration. Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of infants born ≤1500 g. LCC was retrospectively diagnosed in infants requiring glucocorticoids for circulatory instability at >1 week of life. Demographic and clinical characteristics were compared between groups using Mann–Whitney test. Results: Three hundred and ten infants were included; 19 (6.1%) developed LCC. Infants with LCC were born at a median 4.6 weeks’ lower gestation, 509 g lower birth weight than those without LCC. There was no difference in antenatal steroid delivery between the groups. Conclusions: LCC occurs in a distinct subset of VLBW infants, suggesting the need for monitoring in this high-risk population. Antenatal steroids did not significantly increase the risk of LCC development in this study. Impact: Late-onset circulatory collapse (LCC) is a life-threatening clinical entity occurring in around 6% in VLBW infants and is likely underdiagnosed in the United States.Targeting specific demographic characteristics such as birth weight (<1000 g) and gestational age at birth (<26 weeks) may allow for early identification of high-risk infants, allowing close monitoring and prompt treatment of LCC.No significant association was found between antenatal steroid administration and LCC development, suggesting that the theoretical risks of antenatal steroids on the fetal HPA axis does not outweigh the benefits of antenatal steroids in fetal lung maturity.To date, no studies characterizing LCC have originated outside of Asia. Therefore, providing a description of LCC in a U.S.-based cohort will provide insight into both its prevalence and presentation to inform clinicians about this potentially devastating disorder and foster early diagnosis and treatment.This study validates LCC characteristics and prevalence previously outlined by Asian studies in a single-center U.S.-based cohort while also identifying potential risk factors for LCC development.This manuscript will provide education for U.S. physicians about the risk factors and clinical presentation of LCC to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment, potentially decreasing neonatal mortality.With prompt recognition and treatment of LCC, infants may have decreased exposure to vasoactive medications that have significant systemic effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-973
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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