Do Glucocorticoids in Pregnancy Have Long-term Effects on Offspring?

December 30, 2011

The offspring of women who receive inhaled glucocorticoid medications to treat asthma during pregnancy may have a significantly increased risk of endocrine and metabolic disorders, according to a population-based cohort study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The offspring of women who receive inhaled glucocorticoid medications to treat asthma during pregnancy may have a significantly increased risk of endocrine and metabolic disorders, according to a population-based cohort study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 

The study followed 65,085 mother-child pairs from the Danish National Birth Cohort from 1996 to 2002. Computer-assisted interviews determined asthma in pregnant women at 12 weeks and 30 weeks gestation and again at 6 months postpartum. Although the study confirms previous research that failed to show an association between inhaled glucocorticoid medication and fetal adrenal function, obstetric outcomes, and malformations, it found that offspring were at increased risk of metabolic and endocrine disorders.

“Data on the use of glucocorticoid inhalants during pregnancy was mostly reassuring, supporting the use of glucocorticoid inhalation in asthmatic women during pregnancy,” the authors concluded. “However, the risk of endocrine and metabolic disorders in the offspring of women using glucocorticoid inhalation during pregnancy needs further attention…Given the widespread use of glucocorticoid inhalation in the treatment of asthma, our findings should be considered in order to critically reappraise the long-term risks and benefits of glucocorticoid inhalation during pregnancy.

Reference:

Tegethoff M, Greene N, Olsen J, et al. Inhaled glucocorticoids during pregnancy and offspring pediatric diseases: a national cohort study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Dec 23. [Epub ahead of print]

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