The efficacy of methylprednisolone in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Oct;179(4):921-4. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9378(98)70189-9.


Objective: The study compared the efficacy of methylprednisolone with that of promethazine for the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum.

Study design: Patients with a normal-appearing intrauterine pregnancy of < or = 16 weeks' gestation with hyperemesis gravidarum (persistent vomiting and large ketonuria despite outpatient therapy) were admitted to the hospital for continuous intravenous hydration and offered participation in the study. Patients meeting study criteria were randomly assigned to receive (from identical-appearing dispensers packaged in advance with a 2-week supply) oral methylprednisolone, 16 mg 3 times daily, or oral promethazine, 25 mg 3 times daily. After 3 days the methylprednisolone was tapered completely during the course of 2 weeks whereas the promethazine was continued without change for 2 weeks. For patients who continued to vomit after 2 days the study medication was discontinued. Patients receiving study medication at discharge continued to take the remainder of the assigned medication from the packaged pill dispensers. Patients were followed up weekly. The study outcomes, as established in advance, were (1) improvement of symptoms within 2 days of starting therapy and (2) readmission for hyperemesis within 2 weeks of starting the study.

Results: Forty patients were enrolled in the course of 11 months (20 per group). There were no significant differences between the groups with respect to maternal age, gravidity, parity, gestational age at entry, number of previous admissions, or > 5% body weight loss. Three patients in the methylprednisolone group and 2 in the promethazine group failed to stop vomiting within 2 days. One patient from the promethazine group was unavailable for follow-up. No patient from the methylprednisolone group but 5 of the 17 patients receiving promethazine were readmitted for hyperemesis within 2 weeks of discharge (P = .0001). There were no adverse effects noted for either drug.

Conclusion: A short course of methylprednisolone is more effective than promethazine for the treatment of hyperemesis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Promethazine / administration & dosage
  • Promethazine / therapeutic use
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Promethazine
  • Methylprednisolone