A new study was published yesterday (December 7th) in the newest issue of Journal of the American Medical Association which shows that steroids given as early as 23 weeks can help boost survival of micro-preemies – reducing the risk of death and important developmental issues.
Current guidelines for administering steroids to women at risk of preterm delivery are given if they are between 24-34 weeks of pregnancy. No recommendations are given for women who present with signs of preterm labor before 24 weeks.
Prenatal or antenatal Steroids help the infants’ lungs develop and this increases survival rates and lowers their risk of brain injury. The new study published provides evidence of the need for new recommendations.
Study author Dr. Wally Carlo, director of the division of neonatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said that in the absence of clear guidelines, standard practice varies widely. In the study, around 40% of women who showed signs of preterm labor at 23 weeks were not treated with steroids.
The study looked at about 10,500 infants born at 23 different medical centers between January 1993 and January 2008 at 22 to 25 weeks. The study compared infants who received prenatal steroids to those who had not and neurological exams were preformed on more then 4900 of the surviving infants between 18-22 months after their original due dates.
The study showed that when steriods were given to mothers during their 22nd-23rd week of pregnancy, the risk of death in their infant decreased by more then 33 % and the risk of neurodevelopmental delays dropped by more then 20 %. The treatment worked across many subgroups of women, Carlo said. “Even one dose may have important effects,” he added.
An important study that can help many