Corticosteroids During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

    Generic Name: CorticosteroidsCorticosteroids and Pregnancy Safety and Breastfeeding
    Indications: Reduce inflammation of the skin and/or bronchial tubes. Doctors may prescribe corticosteroid injections during pregnancy to speed lung development if premature birth is a risk. The drug may be prescribed for off-label uses.
    FDA Drug Category: C

    Summary Recommendations
    : Corticosteroids are prescribed for a variety of conditions, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some doctors also prescribe inhaled corticosteroids if a patient has a bronchial infection of some kind.

    Pregnant women may be given corticosteroid injections to speed up lung development if there are warning signs that preterm birth could occur.

    General Precautions
    : Corticosteroids are prescribed for short-term and long-term use, depending on the condition for which the steroid is prescribed. It is important to maintain the prescribed dose and dosing schedule during treatment.

    Effect While Trying to Conceive
    : Corticosteroids are not associated with infertility. The anti-inflammatory can be used in conjunction with other fertility treatments to improve fertility and chance of conception in both male and female patients.

    Effects on Pregnancy
    : Corticosteroids can be used during pregnancy for a variety of reasons. Oral and injected corticosteroids work differently than corticosteroid creams. When used to treat conditions like asthma or bronchial infections, the benefits outweigh the possible side effects. Side effects associated with oral corticosteroid use may include increased hunger, anxiety and increased blood pressure. Prolonged use can lead to more severe side effects such as Cushing’s syndrome.

    Topical corticosteroids have fewer potential side effects and most side effects are skin related. Prolonged or improper use of topical corticosteroids can lead to skin irritation, addiction and thinning.

    Injecting corticosteroids is the delivery system most often used during pregnancy to aid in fetal lung development. Injection site irritation is possible. Research has found a connection between multiple corticosteroid doses and increased risk of cerebral palsy. The increased risk was found in women who received more than four doses of corticosteroids.

    Safe During Breastfeeding
    : Corticosteroids are generally considered safe for use by breastfeeding mothers. A small amount of the steroid passes to the infant, but repeated trials and clinical reports showed no negative side effects.