There are conditions that are unique to pregnancy or triggered by it that may require the prescription of corticosteroids. The cortisone is then used in a carefully chosen form, alongside the expertise of an obstetrician.
Pregnancy can occur in women already taking cortisone for a chronic condition. We know that pregnancy generally does not justify an immediate discontinuation of treatment. The risk to the unborn child is very small. The benefit to the mother is often important given the type of condition needing care.
Scientific data can assure parents that complications with newborns related to corticosteroids are very low. However, intrauterine growth retardation and low weight at birth were observed in the children of certain mothers were given recent, high doses of corticosteroids. However, the role of the disease requiring cortisone in the first place must be taken into account first.
Please be aware that the transmission of certain steroids across the placenta is very low (e.g. prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone) while other forms (e.g. betamethasone) are higher. The presence of the fetus means that a safe, suitable form of cortisone must be used.
The risk of side effects caused by cortisone for the mother is identical to that of a non-pregnant woman, except for an increased risk of endometritis and/or diabetes.
When breastfeeding, the transmission of prednisone or prednisolone is low, less than 10%. Breastfeeding is possible although it is advised to avoid it for up to 4 hours after taking cortisone, especially for women taking high doses.
Good to know
- If you are pregnant, you must notify your obstetrician and midwife that will assist you during your child?s birth that you are taking cortisone.
- Peltoniemi OM et al. Repeated antenatal corticosteroid treatment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2011
- Czeizel AE et al. Population-based case-control study of teratogenic potential of corticosteroids. Teratology. 1997
- Aghajafari F et al. Multiple courses of antenatal corticosteroids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001
- Hoes JN et al. EULAR evidence-based recommendations on the management of systemic glucocorticoid therapy in rheumatic diseases. Ann Rheum Dis. 2007