Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Premature babies benefit from repeat steroids:

Repeat doses of steroids given to premature babies before birth will not affect the long-term development of these babies.
By Motherpedia
Date: February 04 2015
Editor Rating:

A new joint New Zealand-Australian study is good news for parents whose babies were given steroids before birth to prevent serious complications of premature delivery.

Antenatal steroids have been used to mature baby's organ systems since the 1970s. Despite evidence of the important benefits of repeat antenatal steroids given to pregnant mothers at risk of delivering before 32 weeks, many doctors have been reluctant to use the treatment more than once due to fears the baby could be at more risk of developing long-term conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Lead researcher, Dr Chris McKinlay of Auckland University's Liggins Institute said the study was the first to show the repeat steroid doses were safe, and doctors could be reassured the risk of health problems was low.

"With few treatments available for mothers at risk of preterm birth, this is an important finding," said Dr McKinlay.

"Forty percent of pregnant women at risk of having a premature birth and given a dose of antenatal steroids do not deliver immediately, and we wanted to know if giving repeat doses to these women improved outcomes for their babies without causing harm."

The study examined the cardiovascular and metabolic function of almost 260 premature children of school age, who were exposed to repeat steroids or a placebo treatment before birth.

Researchers found the repeat dose of antenatal steroids did not increase risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases at early school age.

“The study shows that the treatment is safe,” says Dr McKinlay.

“Clinicians wishing to use repeat antenatal steroids can be reassured that the risk of future cardiovascular and metabolic disease from this therapy is low.”

Dr McKinlay said the benefits of antenatal steroids for premature babies were many - they reduced the risk of lung disease, the need for a ventilator, infection, serious gut complications, and bleeding into the brain.

Antenatal steroids are given to a pregnant woman at risk of premature delivery, to mature her baby’s organ systems, especially the lungs, gut and cardiovascular and immune systems, which remain very immature until around 32 weeks and don’t mature fully until after 36 weeks.

Antenatal steroids reduce the risk of preterm lung disease in premature babies, and the need for a ventilator, infection, serious gut complications, and bleeding into the brain.

“All these factors combine to improve survival and prevent serious illness in preterm babies. Steroids such as betamethasone and dexamethasone cross the placenta into the babies’ blood stream to act directly on fetal organs and cells,” says Dr McKinlay.

“These synthetic steroids work by mimicking what normal happens in late pregnancy when the baby’s natural steroid levels rise. This sends a signal to the fetal organs that it’s time to start getting ready for life outside the womb.”

Dr McKinlay said steroids were still the most important treatment for premature babies, and have had a big impact on reducing complications in preterm babies.

Share This Tweet This Email To Friend
Related Articles
Staying active & fit during pregnancy is fantastic for mother…
Read more
A new study shows a possible link between rapid gain…
Read more
It is possible to have too much baby clothing, so…
Read more
How parents respond to their baby's babbling can speed the…
Read more
Cry babies

Dry your eyes!
The newest additions are on their way from the Babies who cry real tears!


Latest Tech Used In Shipping Containers
Read how the shipping industry has revolutionised

Motherpedia cover-2

Win 1 set of a 4-book hardcover illustrated boxed set
Barbara Murray’s new 4-book Sound Stories is perfect for parents and educators and could assist with NAPLAN results

Motherpedia cover (4)

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest Australia
Get ready for this celebration!

Motherpedia cover-4

A Fortnight of Foodie Experiences at East Village
A taste of East Village. What's in it for me?

Globber my too fix up cover

We Try: Globber My TOO Fix Up
A scooter that grows with your child

Throw a winning cricket pitch

3 Steps to a Winning Backyard Cricket Pitch
Ex-Adelaide Oval legend curator Les Burdett shares his tips for getting your backyard cricket pitch test match ready this summer

A bike that follows your kids life cycle - motherpedia - cover

A Bike That Follows Your Kids Life Cycle
Check out the Bunzi 2-in-1 gradual balance bike!

Moonlight lifestyle

Moonlight Cinema to bring…
Moonlight Cinema announces brand new Western Sydney venue

Screen shot 2019-11-26 at 8.29.12 am

Your Magical Christmas Wonderland…
Adventure park is about to light up the night sky with its "Christmas Festival of Lights"

Screen shot 2019-11-21 at 11.11.36 am

The Preston Market Gets…
It's time to feel pumped up for the holiday season!


Bunnings team members get…
Help raise funds by buying a snag or donating at your local store.