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Gestational Age-Specific Risks vs Benefits of Multicourse Antenatal Corticosteroids for Preterm Labor


Zephyrin, Laurie C.; Hong, Kimberly N.; Wapner, Ronald J.; Peaceman, Alan M.; Sorokin, Yoram; Dudley, Donald J.; Iams, Jay D.; Harper, Margaret A.; Caritis, Steve N.; & Mercer, Brian M., et al. (2013). Gestational Age-Specific Risks vs Benefits of Multicourse Antenatal Corticosteroids for Preterm Labor. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 209(4), 330.e1-7. PMCID: PMC3967787


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to estimate a gestational age threshold at which the benefits of treatment with weekly courses of antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) during preterm labor outweigh the risks.
STUDY DESIGN: Risk-benefit ratios by gestational age were determined with the use of a Markov microsimulation decision-analysis model with a 1-week cycle length. Single course and multiple (weekly to a maximum of 4) courses of ACS by gestational age of entry (23 weeks to 31 weeks 6 days' gestation) were compared. Benefits were composite events (respiratory distress syndrome, chronic lung disease, severe intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacia, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or stillbirth) averted. Risks were small head circumference and small for gestational age.
RESULTS: More composite events are averted (benefits) than risks acquired (ratio, 6:1) when multiple courses of ACS are initiated at 26 weeks' gestation. When multiple courses of ACS are initiated at 29 weeks' gestation, the risk-benefit ratio is 1. Beyond 29 weeks, there is a suggestion of more risk than benefit.
CONCLUSION: The model suggests that multiple courses of ACS that are initiated at <29 weeks' gestation may have increased benefit compared with risks. Further analyses are needed to determine the long-term clinical significance of these findings.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology


Zephyrin, Laurie C.
Hong, Kimberly N.
Wapner, Ronald J.
Peaceman, Alan M.
Sorokin, Yoram
Dudley, Donald J.
Iams, Jay D.
Harper, Margaret A.
Caritis, Steve N.
Mercer, Brian M.
Thorp, John M., Jr.
Ramin, Susan M.
Rouse, Dwight J.
Sibai, Baha M., for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network