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02-02-2011 | General practice | Article

Potent steroid risk in pregnancy


J Invest Dermatol 2010; Advance online publication

Researchers say GPs should be careful in prescribing potent or very potent topical corticosteroids to pregnant women, after finding their use may impair foetal growth.

The team, led by Dr Ching-Chi Chi (University of Oxford), examined the UK General Practice Research Database and found a two-fold increased risk of foetal growth restriction when mothers were exposed to potent/very potent topical corticosteroids shortly before or during pregnancy.

The study included 35,503 pregnant women who were prescribed topical corticosteroids between the period from 85 days before their last menstrual period and delivery/foetal death, as well as 48,630 unexposed women.

Reassuringly, there was no increased risk of orofacial cleft, foetal death, or preterm delivery associated with maternal exposure to topical corticosteroids.

But, the authors write in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, "the increased risk for foetal growth restriction should be taken into consideration when prescribing potent/very potent topical corticosteroids to pregnant women, and appropriate obstetric care should be provided".

They nevertheless point out that "potent/very potent topical corticosteroids may be the safer option in treating inflammatory or autoimmune bullous dermatoses in pregnancy when compared with oral corticosteroids, ciclosporin, or azathioprine".

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price