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Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2017 Apr;96(4):395-409. doi: 10.1111/aogs.13104.

Use of antenatal corticosteroids in special circumstances: a comprehensive review.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Biostatistics, University of Arkansas for the Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA.
Haukeland University Hospital, Department of Public and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA.


The aim of this study was to determine, in pregnancies complicated by preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), hypertension, intrauterine growth restriction, multi-fetal gestations and pregnancies 23-26 weeks and ≥34 weeks' gestation, whether antenatal corticosteroids benefit the fetus. Literature review using PubMed, Web of Science, Clinical, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1990-2015). Search terms linked special circumstances with corticosteroids. Randomized clinical trials, retrospective and prospective cohort studies, and case control studies were reviewed. In all, 468 abstracts were identified and 84 added from selected article bibliographies; of these, 503 abstracts were excluded, leaving 49 articles as the basis of review. The literature supports corticosteroids for PPROM up to 32-34 weeks without chorioamnionitis. Antenatal corticosteroids are beneficial for preterm infants of women with HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets) syndrome/severe preeclampsia. Postpartum corticosteroid treatment of HELLP patients results in more rapid correction of liver enzymes, platelet counts, and urinary output, which can reduce maternal morbidity. Corticosteroids in twin pregnancies decrease respiratory distress syndrome but the effect is less than in singleton pregnancies. Corticosteroid effects on intrauterine growth restriction pregnancies are conflicting and steroid use should be individualized. Corticosteroid use for 23-26 weeks reduces neonatal mortality but not morbidity. In pregnancies of 34 weeks to 366/7  weeks, corticosteroids reduce respiratory distress syndrome, but follow-up studies are unavailable. No long-term adverse child developmental effects have been observed with one or two courses of corticosteroids, but three or more steroid courses lowers birthweight and organ weight, and there may be an increase in neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Longer follow up of corticosteroid-treated fetuses is required.


Corticosteroids; PPROM; growth restriction; hypertension; preeclampsia; respiratory distress syndrome; twins

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