Thursday 3 May 2012

Steroids - #Borntoosoon

This is my third and final post for today. In coming weeks there will probably be more that I'll write about in respect of Born Too Soon - The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth. This post I felt was important to publish today. 
Joseph having a break from CPAP - just a few days old breathing on his own

I am an asthmatic, and as such, corticosteroids have played a big part in my life, both inhaled and as tablets. What I was unaware of, until it happened to me, was that corticosteroids have an important role to play in preterm birth. 

When a woman may deliver early, in industrialised countries, she is usually given an injection of steroids. There are two injections given 12 hours or more apart. These injections mature the lungs of the neonate. I remember when Dr K came to see me to discuss my treatment plan, he said he would give me cortisone injections, and give me extra medications to slow the onset of eclampsia to optimise the steroids and give them time to work.

When Joseph was born, he was ventilated for 15 hours, then moved on to CPAP. Joseph did brilliantly with his breathing and made a full recovery with no lung problems. I think the steroids had a large part to play in that.

My feelings are backed up by the findings in Born Too Soon. It has been strongly recommended that the use of corticosteroids is promoted in developing countries, and it is thought that up to 400 000 tiny lives could be saved by the use of this medication.

The real beauty of this medication is its cost. Each shot is less than £1. The problem with the shots is that timing is crucial. The shots are given a minimum of 12 hours apart, and need to be given 12 hours before birth, optimally. Having trained staff on the ground to help assess when is optimal, and to give the shots is absolutely crucial.

I did a quick survey on my Facebook last night just asking for people's responses about steroids, and its clear they are universally given in the UK. Many people said they hurt. Others, like me, can't remember them hurting.

One thing is clear, that the well timed use of steroids can and does make a difference. Every baby #borntoosoon deserves that chance.


  1. I was given the steroids as recommended but after Bradley was born the doctors thought I wasn't given the injections since his lungs were "a horror movie". Now I don't know if the steroids were not effective or if Brad's lung condition was even worse before...

  2. Twopointfourchildren3 May 2012 at 14:18

    is that honestly how much they cost? I was in hospital for over 24 hours before they decided to give me one and I only had it about 7 hours before R was born. It had no chance of working.
    Thank you for posting I need to blog too x I love that picture xx