OBJECTIVE: Treatment of pregnant mothers with a single course of antenatal corticosteroids significantly reduces neonatal mortality and morbidity. Multiple weekly courses are often given. However, the safety and efficacy of repeated courses of antenatal corticosteroids have not been adequately studied. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective study was performed for 609 mothers and their 713 infants who were treated with 1 to 12 courses of antenatal corticosteroids. Data for 369 singleton preterm infants born at ≤34 weeks' gestation, 210 multiple gestations, and 134 infants delivered at ≥35 weeks' gestation were analyzed separately. RESULTS: The incidence of respiratory distress syndrome was 45% for single-course and 35% for multiple- course groups (P = .005; odds ratio, 0.44; 95% confidence interval, 0.25- 0.79). The multiple-course group also had significantly less patent ductus arteriosus (20% vs 13%: P = .016). Incidence of death before discharge and other neonatal morbidities were similar. The multiple-course group had a reduction of 0.46 ± 0.19 cm in head circumference at birth (P = .013) when adjusted for gestational age and preeclampsia. The 2 groups had similar birth weights. Infants born at ≥35 weeks' gestation, multiple-gestation infants, and infants who were born >7 days after the last corticosteroid dose had similar outcomes, regardless of the number of courses they received. Mothers treated with multiple courses compared with a single course had a significantly higher incidence of postpartum endometritis (P = .013), even though they had a lower incidence of prolonged rupture of membranes (24% vs 33%, P = .06) and similar cesarean delivery rates. CONCLUSION: Exposure to multiple courses of antenatal corticosteroids compared with a single course resulted in a significant reduction in the incidence of respiratory distress syndrome in singleton preterm infants delivered within a week of the last corticosteroid dose. This was associated with a reduction in birth head circumference and an increased incidence of maternal endometritis. Whether the potential benefits of repeated therapy clearly outweigh the risks will ultimately be determined in randomized prospective controlled trials.
- Intrauterine growth
- Respiratory distress syndrome
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology