Antenatal steroid treatment and adverse fetal effects: What is the evidence?

Helen H. Kay, Ian M. Bird, Christopher L. Coe, Donald J. Dudley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


This article reviews current animal and human data regarding possible adverse fetal effects from antenatal steroid treatment. Although it is now well accepted that such treatment is of benefit to fetal lung development, the potential for adverse fetal outcomes as a result of single or multiple glucocorticoid dosing has not been widely recognized. There are now growing concerns, based on animal and some human data, that repeated antenatal doses could lead to a decrease in birth weight, a decrease in fetal brain and other organ size, and abnormal neuronal development. Previous investigations have been hampered by nonstandardization in the type of glucocorticoid, route of delivery, timing of administration, and number of treatment courses. It is recommended that these concerns be addressed through large randomized, controlled clinical trials. In the meantime, it would be prudent to minimize antenatal steroid treatments to a single course with repeated dosing only if there is a persistent threat of preterm delivery. The practice of giving weekly injections of steroids starting at fetal viability and continuing into the third trimester is not supported. Copyright (C) 2000 by the Society for Gynecologic Investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-278
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2000


  • Adverse fetal effects
  • Antenatal steroid treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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