When steroids were given to moms during their 22nd to 23rd week of pregnancy, infants' risk of death decreased by more than 33 percent, and their risk of neurodevelopmental delays dropped by more than 20 percent, the study showed. Such neurodevelopmental delays may include blindness, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy or severe delays in motor and cognitive issues. The treatment worked across many subgroups of women, Carlo said. "Even one dose may have important effects," he noted.
This suggests that prenatal steroids work just as well in babies born at 23 weeks as they do in those born at 26 weeks.
Dr. Burton Rochelson, chief of maternal-fetal medicine at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., called the new study findings "important" and "a big deal." This study "provides pretty convincing evidence that we can give these steroids to infants between 22 and 23 weeks of pregnancy," he said. "If it looks like you are going to deliver even as early as 23 weeks, you should have a discussion with your doctor and be offered corticosteroids."
Visit the March of Dimes to learn more about preterm birth.
SOURCES: Burton Rochelson, M.D,, chief, maternal-fetal medicine, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Great Neck, N.Y.; Wally Carlo, M.D., director, division of neonatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham; Dec. 7, 2011, Journal of the American Medical Association
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