There is debate concerning the safety and efficacy of antenatal steroids in preterm labour with suspected intrauterine infection (chorioamnionitis).Objectives
We performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis aimed at evaluating the efficacy and safety of antenatal steroids in clinical and histological chorioamnionitis.Search strategy
MEDLINE, EMBASE, BioMed Central and the Cochrane databases were searched using the terms ‘chorioamnionitis OR intrauterine infection’ and ‘*steroids OR *corticoids’.Selection criteria
Studies that reported selected neonatal outcome measures in preterm infants with clinical or histological chorio-amnionitis, according to antenatal steroid exposure, were eligible.Data collection and analysis
Study selection, data extraction and data analysis were performed by two independent investigators. The meta-analysis techniques used included: Mantel–Haenszel analysis; an assessment of study heterogeneity using the Q statistic; and Egger’s regression test and funnel plots, to assess publication bias.Main results
Seven observational studies were included. In histological chorioamnionitis (five studies), antenatal steroids were associated with reduced mortality (OR = 0.45; 95% CI = 0.30–0.68; P = 0.0001), respiratory distress syndrome (OR = 0.53; 95% CI = 0.40–0.71; P < 0.0001), patent ductus arteriosus (OR = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.37–0.85; P = 0.007), intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH; OR = 0.35; 95% CI = 0.18–0.66; P = 0.001) and severe IVH (OR = 0.39; 95% CI = 0.19–0.82; P = 0.01). In clinical chorioamnionitis (four studies), antenatal steroids were associated with reduced severe IVH (OR = 0.29; 95% CI = 0.10–0.89; P = 0.03) and periventricular leucomalacia (OR = 0.35; 95% CI = 0.14–0.85; P = 0.02).Conclusions
Antenatal steroids may be safe and reduce adverse neonatal outcome after preterm birth associated with chorioamnionitis. There is a need for randomised clinical trials to address this issue.