Pregnant women should be careful with any medications they use, but sometimes a medicine is necessary to treat a pre-existing disease. Other times, however, the medicine, while not essential, can ease discomfort and make life more enjoyable.

Corticosteroids are potent medications that treat many symptoms. Drugs in the class come in many forms-pills, creams, lotions, etc. Topical formulations are often used to treat severe itching and other skin problems. Many pregnant women elect to avoid these potent drugs out of fear of harming their developing babies.

A recent study from the NYU School of Medicine found that the proper use of low-dose steroid creams during pregnancy didn’t increase the risk of premature delivery, cleft lips or palates and fetal death. There was no change in the method delivery or Apgar scores-a method of evaluating newborns overall status.

No one should interpret this study as giving pregnant women carte blanche to use as much steroid cream as they wish. It does mean, however, that judicious use of steroid creams during pregnancy appears to be safe.

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From issue: 29/05-06