Steroids are prescribed to some women during pregnancy to treat potential preterm delivery. Researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway recently published a study spanning two years on the possible short and long-term side effects on genome expression. The study was published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.

Fifty newborns born to mothers treated with steroids were recruited for the active group of the study. All infants were born before the 32nd week of gestation. Forty of the infants were exposed to a full steroid course. Genomes were expressed on days five and 28, post delivery.

Conclusion: Steroid therapy does affect genome expression, but only in a limited number of genes. The effect, noted on day five, diminished by day 28, but there could be longer-term side effects. Changes were noted in genes related to cancer, inflammation, male infertility, cell differentiation, preeclampsia, and oxidative stress.

Source: Saugstad OD, Kwinta P, Wollen EJ, Multanowski MB, Talowska AM, Jagła M, Tomasik T, Pietrzyk JJ. Impact of antenatal glucocorticosteroids on whole genome expression in preterm babies. Acta Paediatr. 2013 Jan 24. doi: 10.1111/apa.12166.

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