Antepartum eclampsia <34 weeks case series: advisable to postpone delivery to administer corticosteroids for fetal pulmonary benefit?

J Perinatol. 2011 Mar;31(3):161-5. doi: 10.1038/jp.2010.118. Epub 2010 Nov 11.


Objective: To determine if postponement of delivery to administer fetal lung maturation corticosteroids (PDACs) in mothers with antepartum eclampsia <34 weeks gestation benefits the fetus without compromising the mother.

Study design: A case series of 37 maternal-perinatal pairs over a 9-year period with antepartum eclampsia between 24 and 34 weeks gestation from a single tertiary center were reviewed retrospectively. Duration of PDAC, clinical course and maternal-fetal outcomes, including impact of duration of PDAC on neonatal pulmonary function, were recorded for each case. Group assignment was based on length of corticosteroid treatment course before delivery: Group A, 0 to ≤ 24 h, n=28; B, 24 to <48 h, n=5; C, ≥ 48 h, n=4. Data were collected and analyzed by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), ANOVA on ranks, χ(2)-test and Fisher's exact tests where appropriate; statistical significance was determined by a P-value <0.05.

Result: Overall, 37 of 68 eclampsia patients in 1999 to 2007 met inclusion criteria. No adverse maternal or fetal event occurred while delivery was postponed. Immediate neonatal intubation or continuous positive airway pressure was required for 23/28 in A, 4/5 in B and 2/4 in C; room air was sufficient at birth for 5/28 in A, 1/5 in B and 2/4 in C. No newborn >33 weeks gestation required INI. Prolonged (that is, >1 day) mechanical ventilation was not required for any infant with a gestational age ≥ 32 weeks or PDAC ≥ 48 h. Two of three neonatal deaths in group A were attributed to pulmonary insufficiency.

Conclusion: PDAC for antepartum preterm eclampsia, especially ≤ 32 weeks gestation, appears to offer notable fetal pulmonary benefit without significantly increasing maternal or fetal risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Eclampsia / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Fetal Organ Maturity / drug effects*
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Lung / embryology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Glucocorticoids