Pioneering research into steroid treatment for babies

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MEDICS in Sheffield have launched a research programme to develop a steroid treatment for babies.

A European Union grant, awarded to Sheffield University and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, will be used to improve the treatment of babies who lack the stress hormone cortisol.

Cortisol has a vital role in fighting infections and without it infants cannot survive.

However, one in every 12,000 children is born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a rare genetic disorder that blocks the adrenal glands’ ability to it.

Tiny babies are often at a disadvantage when it comes to new medical treatment, because they have to be treated with drugs developed for adults.

Prof Richard Ross, from Sheffield University’s medical school, said: “Currently there is no licensed preparation to treat neonates and infants with adrenal insufficiency and parents have to use crushed adult tablets, which have associated risks of over and under-treatment.

“Under-treatment can be potentially lethal, while over-treatment results in growth failure and obesity.”

The project aims to deliver the first licensed preparation specifically for parents babies.