The role of antenatal corticosteroids before 34 weeks has been extensively studied and proven to be effective. However of the 15 million preterm births annually worldwide an important segment, late preterm births that is birth between 34 weeks to 36.6 weeks remains unaddressed. While it is true that the incidence of respiratory complications is less in these babies the morbidity is still higher than term infants. The role of antenatal corticosteroids here is controversial as there needs to be a balance between respiratory complications and long term morbidity associated with antenatal corticosteroids.
Background: Late preterm birth comprise 72% of preterm births yet adequate studies regarding this period are still lacking. We conducted this study at MGM medical College and Hospital, A tertiary care centre.
Objectives: To determine effectiveness of antenatal corticosteroids in late preterm period.
Methods: A total of 50 patients with gestational age between 34.1to 36.6 weeks were included in this study, they were divided into cases and controls of 25 patients each. Case group received antenatal corticosteroids and control group did not receive corticosteroids. Maternal and neonatal outcomes were then studied.
Results: There was a significant reduction in neonatal respiratory morbidity in the case group over a short term period.
Conclusion: Antenatal corticosteroids are effective in late preterm period in reducing short term respiratory morbidity however the possibility of long term effects should be weighed against the benefits. Decision to administer steroids should be made on a case by case basis.