[Repeat doses of prenatal corticosteroids for women at risk of preterm birth: a difficult consensus]

J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 2009 Oct;38(6):459-68. doi: 10.1016/j.jgyn.2008.12.004. Epub 2009 May 26.
[Article in French]


A single course of antenatal corticosteroids in women at risk of preterm delivery reduces the risk of neonatal mortality and morbidity. Recent experimental and clinical studies have stated early, medium and long term consequences of single or repeated courses of antenatal corticosteroids. Betamethasone and dexamethasone are the two molecules usually used. Benefits are observed until the first 24 hours after the first injection. Single-course corticosteroids are not effective in babies born more than 7 days after initial treatment. Benefits of corticosteroids were evaluated between 22 and 35 weeks of gestation. Antenatal exposure to single-course betamethasone might result in disruption on glucose metabolism in adult offspring. Weekly courses of prenatal corticosteroids therapy are not recommended. Repeat prenatal corticosteroids given to women at continuing risk of preterm birth 7 or more days after an initial course reduced the inherent respiratory complications of prematurity and improved health outcomes of preterm infants. However, adverse outcomes have been reported concerning cognitive development. Although repeat course may have short term benefits, whether there are effects on health into childhood and beyond must await later assessment. Long term data are needed to recommend repeated courses.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / pharmacology
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Lung / embryology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth*
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / prevention & control
  • Risk


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Blood Glucose