A French study investigates the effect of antenatal steroids in preterm twins. Antenatal steroids are medications given to pregnant women expecting preterm delivery. The medication helps the newborn’s lungs to develop more quickly. It reduces the risk of a newborn having serious complications or dying. 750 newborn twins participated in the study. They were all born preterm, between 24 and 31 weeks. All French maternity units, except a single administrative unit, participated in the study between March and December 2011.
Severe issues from being born prematurely
The researchers divided the newborn twins into four groups depending on if and when they received antenatal steroids. The researchers looked into how the newborns were doing shortly after delivery. Some of the newborns were struggling with severe issues from being born prematurely. Severe bronchopulmonary dysplasia was one of those issues. It’s a chronic lung disease in which premature babies, usually those who were treated with supplemental oxygen, require long-term oxygen. Some had periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), which is the most common brain injury in premature babies. Others had intraventricular haemorrhage also known as intraventricular bleeding. That’s a bleeding into the brain’s ventricular system. The most severe stages can result in long-term brain injury.
Single complete course of steroids improves odds
The researchers found that in preterm twins, a single complete course of antenatal steroids was associated with an improvement of severe neurological outcome. No significant differences in terms of benefit or risk were found when comparing repeated courses with a single complete course.
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