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Evidence-based (S3) guideline on topical corticosteroids in pregnancy


  • Funding sources
    No external funding.

  • Conflicts of interest
    T.Z.: consultant for Ansell, Bayer Schering, DST, Fujisawa, HAL, Henkel, Kryolan, Leti, MSD, Novartis, Procter and Gamble, Sanofi-Aventis, Schering Plough, Stallergenes, and UCB; the others, none.

Ching-Chi Chi.


Women with skin conditions may need topical corticosteroids during pregnancy. However, little is known about the effects of topical corticosteroids on the fetus. A guideline subcommittee of the European Dermatology Forum was organized to develop an evidence-based guideline on the use of topical corticosteroids in pregnancy ( The evidence from a Cochrane Review suggested that the major possible adverse effects on the fetus of topical corticosteroids were orofacial clefts when used preconceptionally and in the first trimester of pregnancy, and fetal growth restriction when very potent topical corticosteroids were used during pregnancy. To obtain robust evidence, a large population-based cohort study (on 84 133 pregnant women from the U.K. General Practice Research Database) was performed, which found a significant association of fetal growth restriction with maternal exposure to potent/very potent topical corticosteroids, but not with mild/moderate topical corticosteroids. No associations of maternal exposure to topical corticosteroids of any potency with orofacial cleft, preterm delivery and fetal death were found. Moreover, another recent Danish cohort study did not support a causal association between topical corticosteroid and orofacial cleft. The current best evidence suggests that mild/moderate topical corticosteroids are preferred to potent/very potent ones in pregnancy, because of the associated risk of fetal growth restriction with the latter.