Administering steroids to pregnant women improves survival and limits brain damage among infants born as early as 23 weeks, reveals study. The research in the December 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that preterm babies may benefit sooner than thought from the boost in lung power and organ growth they get from exposure to steroids. Until now, little was known about the efficacy of giving a pregnant woman steroids for a fetus less than 24 weeks old, and some were worried it could raise the risk of infection in the mother. Current guidelines, published in 1995, recommend a two-shot regimen for mothers who go into preterm labor when the fetus is between 24 and 34 weeks of age. A normal full-term pregnancy is between 37 and 42 weeks. However, even though premature babies exposed to steroids were twice as likely to survive as those who were not, the researchers cautioned that overall survival still remained relatively low, at 36 percent. To determine if steroids could help the youngest babies survive after being born on the edge of viability, doctor Waldemar Carlo of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and colleagues looked back at records between 1993 and 2009 at 23 academic perinatal centers in the United States. Data included babies born between 401 grams (14.1 ounces) and 1,000 grams (35.3 ounces) at 22 to 25 weeks' gestation. Among babies born at 23 weeks who were exposed to steroids, 83 percent either died or had brain development problems by age 18-22 months. Ninety percent of those who weren't given steroids either died or showed brain damage. The same advantages were not seen at a statistically significant level in babies aged 22 weeks who were exposed to steroids. The improvements were more pronounced in babies aged 24 weeks, 68 percent of whom died or had brain damage after getting steroids compared to 80.3 percent who did not. Concerns about potential infection in pregnant mothers, whose immune systems would dip after being given the steroids, were unfounded, he said. "The results of the study showed that mortality was decreased by more than 33 percent and neurodevelopmental impairment was decreased by more than 20 percent," Carlo said. "We also found that using the antenatal corticosteroids did not increase the infection rate for the mothers." Carlo and colleagues urged further research and said doctors should consider giving preterm mothers steroids starting at "23 weeks' gestation and later if the infant will be given intensive care because this therapy is associated with reduced mortality and morbidity."Source: AFP << Depression Ups Dementia Risk in Diabetic Patients: Study 'Gold Standard' Stem Cells Created >> Recommended Reading Low Birth Weight Babies Suffer Significant Health Compromise Low Birth Weight (LBW) infants suffer significant perinatal compromise. LBW is a key issue in public health, especially for developing countries. READ MORE Quiz on Early Pregnancy Symptoms If you are trying to find out whether you have conceived this time around, you can ask other people, worry in silence or take this quiz on early signs and symptoms of ... READ MORE Pregnancy Confirmation Calculator Are you pregnant? Use Medindia's simple and useful calculator to find out whether you are pregnant or not. READ MORE Tips For Pregnant Women Pregnancy is a time when a female blossoms into a woman with an experience never felt before. Here are a few self-care tips for pregnant mothers that will help them during their pregnancy. READ MORE Anabolic Steroids Anabolic steroids can produce power- packed, adrenaline – pumping performances but they also reflect a saga of condemnation and shame. READ MORE Are Steroids Bad For You? Steroids are miracle drugs but have to be used with caution. Some steroids are illegal to use, without prescription. Most steroids have severe side effects hence, these must be taken under strict medical supervision. READ MORE Cannabis Cannabis has a long history of medicinal, recreational, and industrial use and comes from a bushy plant with thick sticky flowers called Cannabis Sativa READ MORE Drug Abuse The use of Drugs for reasons other than its prescribed recommendation, is known as Drug abuse or substance abuse. Drug abuse or substance abuse is initiated by various biological and social factors. READ MORE Patent Ductus Arteriosus Patent Ductus Arteriosus is a congenital defect of the heart where the fetal passage between pulmonary artery and aorta remains open and causes excess pulmonary blood flow. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Find a Hospital Turmeric Powder - Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects More News on: CannabisDrug AbusePatent Ductus ArteriosusAnabolic SteroidsAre Steroids Bad For You?