n Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forum - Antenatal corticosteroids - established but still debatable : review

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1027-9148



Preterm birth is a global problem that is associated with significant morbidity and mortality as well as the consumption of valuable, scarce resources. It also has potentially significant, long-term, implications for neurological development. One of the oldest drugs in the arsenal of the obstetrician, namely antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) have been used for decades for well documented benefits pertaining, but not limited to the fetal/neonatal respiratory system. These drugs cross the placenta. They are administered within a specific gestational age range to mothers at risk of preterm delivery within the next seven days. In view of the robust evidence supporting the benefits of ACS, some researchers have sought to broaden the indications. The conviction that there are only benefits should not be cast in stone. Recent publications raise issues of possible harm. The current evidence is briefly reviewed to address specific indications and contra-indications as well as the evidence about the drug itself.

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