Why are antenatal steroids important?

Antenatal steroids are medications given to women who are at risk for delivering their babies early. Babies who are born early may have trouble breathing at first. Certain types of steroids have been shown to help premature babies’ lungs work better, making breathing easier. Steroids can also help speed up the development of the baby’s brain and digestive organs. 

What does the antenatal steroid administration rate measure?

This rate measures how many mothers who deliver between 24 and 34 weeks of pregnancy get antenatal steroids before their babies are born. The national target for this rate is 90% or greater.

What can you do as a patient?

Start prenatal care early, and give your health care provider your complete health history. This will help you determine together whether you have any risk factors for early or “preterm” birth. Know the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, and call your obstetric provider immediately if you experience any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Change in type of vaginal discharge (watery, mucus, or bloody)
  • Increase in amount of discharge
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pressure
  • Constant low, dull backache
  • Mild abdominal cramps, with or without diarrhea
  • Regular or frequent contractions or uterine tightening, often painless
  • Ruptured membranes (your water breaks with a gush or a trickle of fluid).

You can read more about Preterm Labor and Birth here.