Antenatal corticosteroids for pregnant women with COVID-19 infection and preterm prelabor rupture of membranes: a decision analysis

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2022 May;35(9):1643-1651. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2020.1763951. Epub 2020 May 19.


Background: While antenatal corticosteroids are routinely used to decrease adverse neonatal outcomes following preterm delivery, corticosteroids are also associated with worse outcomes in patients with viral respiratory infections. Currently in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unclear whether antenatal corticosteroids for infant benefit outweigh the potential harm to a pregnant woman with a COVID-19 infection.

Objective: To determine at which gestational ages administering antenatal corticosteroids is the optimal management strategy for hospitalized women with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PPROM) who have a COVID-19 infection.

Methods: We designed a decision-analytic model to assess the maternal and infant outcomes associated with antenatal corticosteroid administration for risk of preterm delivery following rupture of membranes in the setting of a COVID-19 infection. We used a theoretical cohort of 10,000 women at each gestational age between 24 and 32 weeks who were hospitalized with PPROM and found to be COVID-19 positive. Maternal outcomes included intensive care unit admission and death related to COVID-19 infection. The infant outcomes of interest included respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular hemorrhage, neurodevelopmental delay, and death, and were assessed along with maternal and infant quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were used to evaluate model assumptions.

Results: In our theoretical cohort of 10,000 women with COVID-19 infection and preterm prelabor rupture of membrane between 24 and 32 weeks, corticosteroid administration resulted in 2,200 women admitted to the ICU and 110 maternal deaths at each gestational age. No antenatal corticosteroid use resulted in 1,500 ICU admissions and 75 maternal deaths at each gestational age. Antenatal corticosteroid administration also resulted in fewer cases of respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular hemorrhage, and infant death. Overall, we found that between 24 and 30 weeks of gestation, administering antenatal corticosteroids was the optimal management strategy as it resulted in higher combined QALYs than no corticosteroid use. For 31 and 32 weeks of gestation, antenatal corticosteroid administration resulted in lower combined QALYs. On sensitivity analyses, we found that with increasing gestational age, the probability which antenatal corticosteroids was the optimal management strategy decreased.

Conclusion: Administration of antenatal corticosteroids was an effective management strategy compared to no corticosteroid administration at gestational ages less than 31 weeks. These results provide data for clinicians to utilize when counseling pregnant patients hospitalized with PPROM and have a COVID-19 infection.

Keywords: Antenatal corticosteroids; COVID-19; decision analysis; preterm delivery; rupture of membranes.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Female
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture* / chemically induced
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture* / drug therapy
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pandemics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women
  • Premature Birth* / chemically induced
  • Premature Birth* / prevention & control


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones