Use of Inhaled and Oral Corticosteroids in Pregnancy and the Risk of Malformations or Miscarriage

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Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs, which sometimes must be given to pregnant women. Corticosteroids have been suspected to be teratogenic for many years; however, there is conflicting evidence regarding the association. Based on a literature review of three databases, this MiniReview provides an overview of inhaled and oral corticosteroid use in pregnancy with specific emphasis on the association between use of corticosteroids during pregnancy and risk of miscarriage and congenital malformations in offspring. The use of corticosteroids among pregnant women ranged from 0.2% to 10% and increased nearly two times in recent years. Taken together, the evidence suggests that the use of corticosteroids in early pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations overall or oral clefts in offspring; at the same time, published estimates are inconsistent. The use of inhaled corticosteroids was associated with a slightly increased risk of miscarriage, whereas the use of oral corticosteroids was not; however, confounding by indication could not be ruled out.

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