Giving corticosteroid drugs to pregnant women at risk of preterm birth was found to reduce their babies’ risk of death and serious illness, with very premature babies benefitting the most, reports a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Babies born prematurely – between 23 and 34 weeks of pregnancy – who were exposed to corticosteroids in utero were at significantly lower risk of death than babies of mothers who didn’t receive the treatment, concludes the study, carried out in the US.
A team of researchers analysed data relating to 117,941 babies born prematurely (between 23 and 34 weeks of gestation) between 2009 and 2013 in 300 neonatal intensive care units in the USA.
The researchers found that the most premature babies, born from 23 weeks, benefitted the most from exposure to corticosteroids during pregnancy. As well as improving survival rates, infants born very prematurely were also in better health, presenting less risk of complications or serious illness.