Periventricular leukomalacia, cystic
Softening of the white matter near the ventricles of the brain resulting in abnormal cysts. Cystic periventricular leukomalacia is a major problem in very premature infants. Treating the mother with a cortisone-like drug before the premature birth has been discovered to protect the baby's brain from this complication. A research team reported a retrospective (backward-looking) analysis of the outcomes for 883 infants born between 24 and 31 weeks' gestation. The report was in The New England Journal of Medicine. Before delivery, 361 of the mothers received betamethasone (the key cortisone-like drug), 165 received dexamethasone (another cortisone-like drug) and 357 received no cortisone-like drug at all. In infants born to the mothers in these three groups, the rates of cystic periventricular leukomalacia were 4.4%, 11.0% and 8.4%, respectively. Betamethasone significantly reduced the risk of cystic periventricular leukomalacia. (Reference: N Engl J Med 1999;341:1190-1196,1229-1230.)

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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