A lot of mothers during pregnancy are at risk of premature birth of the baby. Worldwide, about 1.5 million babies are born premature annually Breathing problems, are one of the main causes that lead to death in infants and complications in survivors who are born pre- maturely. ACT or antenatal corticosteroid therapy is used before birth to help mature the lungs rapidly.
For such mothers, steroids are injected in order to carry the baby long term. But these steroid injections may have alternate consequences.
A recent study revealed that mothers taking steroid injections during preganancy could result in babies with lower body weight. On an average, antenatal corticosteroid therapy (ACT) – the steroid given to expecting mothers resulted in infants that weight 220 grams lesser than those who did not receive the injection.
There was a weight difference of 89 grams for full term babies and 141 grams for those born near term. The babies were also comparatively smaller in size to regular babies.
From earlier studies on animals, we know that foetal growth is affected by steroid treatment. Although, the cause is unclear. It is not known yet whether drugs or other complications is what resulted in the reduction of weight at birth.
Professor Alina Rodriguez from the University of Lincoln use data from 2,78,508 births to figure out whether the weight loss and size difference was due to steroids or other variables. Her study was published in the PLOS Medicine journal.
In the study, 4,887 women were given the injection and of them only 2,173 babies were born at term.
Professor Alina Rodriguez said, “This study adds weight to calls for a review of the current guidelines for management of threatened pre-term birth and for who should receive steroid treatment.”