According to new research, corticosteroids may improve lung development and reduce the risk of respiratory problems for preterm babes born after 34 weeks. A UPI report notes that corticosteroids are typically recommended for women at risk of preterm birth between 23 and 33 weeks of pregnancy, although new data acquired by scientists at Thomas Jefferson University suggest the steroids may still be helpful after that.

The co-authors of the study Vincenzo Berghella and Gabriele Saccone evaluated data compiled three completed double-blind clinical trials that included 3,200 women between 34 and 37 weeks of pregnancy at risk of preterm birth.

The results of the study showed that babies born between 34 and 37 weeks of pregnancy face a higher risk of having severe respiratory problems. Infants delivered with the help of a C-section in the same time period face similar risks, reports UPI. Berghella says, “Respiratory distress remains one of the most common and serious problems we see in the delivery room that can cause infant mortality.”

To reduce the likelihood of babies being born with severe respiratory problems, the UPI report indicates that the study’s authors recommend two shots of steroids be administered over a 24-hour period for women at risk of preterm birth between 34 and 37 weeks, or for women undergoing C-section after 37 weeks.

The authors of the study concede that the use of corticosteroids raises the risk of infants being born with hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, according to UPI. The authors also note that the condition does not seem to have any short-term consequences; however, more data is needed to make a sound judgment.

Source: UPI