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Keywords:

  • chorioamnionitis;
  • perinatal mortality;
  • prenatal corticosteroids;
  • respiratory distress syndrome;
  • stillbirth.

Abstract

Objectives: To determine the risk of fetal, neonatal and maternal mortality and morbidity for women and their infants who remained undelivered more than 7 days following a course of prenatal corticosteroids.

Design: Systematic review.

Population: Women who gave birth more than 7 days after a course of prenatal corticosteroids compared with women not administered corticosteroids.

Methods: Seven randomised controlled trials were identified which reported outcomes for women and their babies who remained undelivered more than 7 days after exposure to a single course of corticosteroids compared with a placebo/no treatment group.

Main outcome measures: Fetal, neonatal and maternal mortality and morbidity.

Results: Seven trials involving 862 infants, 434 born to corticosteroid treated women and 428 to control women were included in this review. For corticosteroid treated infants there was no reduction in the risk of respiratory distress syndrome (relative risk (RR), 0.72; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.49–1.07), or stillbirth (RR, 1.67; 95% CI, 0.86–3.25). However, there was a tripling in risk of death for liveborn corticosteroid treated infants (RR, 3.24; 95% CI, 1.32–7.96; P = 0.01), and a doubling in risk of perinatal mortality (RR, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.27–3.57; P < 0.01). Corticosteroid treated infants were born on average 5 days earlier than controls (95% CI, −9.15 to −0.85 days, P = 0.02). Their mothers were more likely to have chorioamnionitis (RR, 2.91; 95% CI, 1.25–6.74; P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Infants exposed to corticosteroids more than 7 days before birth had no reduction in risk of respiratory distress syndrome but increased perinatal mortality.