Most pregnant women are wary of using steroid creams for topical use, out of fear of harming their fetus. Even the FDA, labels these creams as pregnancy risk category C based on the adverse effects seen in animals. No proper studies had been conducted to study the effect of steroid creams in pregnant women until recently. However, a new study, published in JAMA Dermatology has found that when used for short term in typical doses, steroid creams do not pose any risk to the health of the unborn baby.
The present study was conducted by Shu-Hui Wang and his colleagues from Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in New Taipei, Taiwan. They collected data on 2.658 pregnant women who had used steroid based creams, and 7,246 pregnant women who had not used any such cream, from the U.K. National Health Service. The researchers tried to find out a possible association between the use of steroid creams and various factors in new born infants such as the incidence of oro-facial defects, low birth weight, Apgar score, preterm delivery and fetal death. They also tried to find out if the use of steroid creams had any effect on the mode of delivery.
Adverse effects of steroid creams are seen only when used in excess throughout pregnancy
It was seen that when steroid creams are used by pregnant women in their typical doses and for short terms, they did not affect the development of the fetus in any manner. When used in an amount less than 200 grams, steroid creams were not associated with any birth defects. However, when they were used in excess of 300 grams throughout the pregnancy, they were associated with low birth weight of the baby.
Topical steroids when used by pregnant women in low doses for short term, do not produce any adverse effects on the baby. However, large doses of such creams when used for long durations are associated with an increased risk of a low birth weight baby.
- Ching C-C, Wang S-H, Wojnarowska F, et al. Pregnancy Outcomes After Maternal Exposure to Topical Corticosteroids, JAMA Dermatol.