RCOG release: Corticosteroids can help women at risk of premature birth, says new RCOG patient information

Corticosteroids are a type of medication given to women to help their baby if there is a possibility that they may go into labour early.

Premature babies (born before 37 weeks) have an increased risk of health problems, particularly with breathing, feeding and infection. These problems can be more severe the earlier the baby is born.

A single course of corticosteroids has been shown to help with a baby’s development and therefore will increase the chance of survival. It also lessens the chance of a premature baby having serious complications after birth such as breathing problems due to the lungs not being fully developed, bleeding into the brain, serious infection or bowel inflammation, states the new guidance.

The patient information recommends that women should have corticosteroids if there is an increased chance that their baby will be born before 35 weeks of pregnancy.

In addition for women planning a caesarean section before 39 weeks of pregnancy, corticosteroids are recommended to lessen the chance of breathing problems for the baby.

Chair of the RCOG’s Patient Information Committee, Philippa Marsden, said:

“This new patient information is for pregnant women who have been recommended to have a course of corticosteroids because there is a possibility that their baby may come early.

“A single course of 2 to 4 injections is considered to be safe for mother and baby. However, more evidence is needed to say whether 2 or more courses of corticosteroids during pregnancy is safe.”


For more information please contact Naomi Weston on 020 7772 6357 or [email protected] 


This information has been developed by the RCOG Patient Information Committee. To read the full guidance please visit: http://www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/clinical-guidance/corticosteroids 

RCOG Green-top Guideline on Antenatal Corticosteroids to Reduce Neonatal Morbidity: http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/GTG%207.pdf