Dexamethasone can boost the survival of premature infants

Antenatal steroids such as dexamethasone can boost the survival of premature infants when administered to pregnant women in developing countries such as India, say researchers at the World Health Organisation (WHO). Although dexamethasone and similar drugs have long been shown to be effective in saving preterm infants in high-income countries, this is the first time a clinical trial has proven that these drugs are also effective in low-income countries.

The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (October) was conducted from December 2017-November 2019, and surveyed 2,852 women and their 3,070 infants in 29 hospitals in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Beyond finding a significantly lower risk of neonatal death and stillbirth, the study also says there is no increase in maternal bacterial infections when pregnant women are administered dexamethasone in low-resource settings.

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