Impact of prenatal corticosteroid therapy on sickle cell disease in pregnant women


Objective: To evaluate safety of prenatal corticosteroids in pregnancies of women with sickle cell disease.

Methods: A multicenter observational study of patients with sickle cell disease, comparing vaso-occlusive crises (VOC) requiring hospital care between pregnancies with versus without prenatal corticosteroids.

Results: In 40 pregnancies exposed to prenatal corticosteroids, compared with 370 unexposed pregnancies, VOC were not more frequent (62.5% vs 57.9%, P = 0.578) but they were more severe, with more intensive care hospitalizations (25.0% vs 12.9%, P = 0.039), emergency transfusions (44.7% vs 22.7%, P = 0.006), and acute chest syndromes (22.5% vs 8.9%, P = 0.010). These differences persisted after adjustment for severity and type of sickle cell syndrome (for intensive care admission adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.10-6.79, P = 0.031 and for acute chest syndrome aOR 4.15, 95% CI 1.57-14.4, P = 0.008). VOC occurred on average 1.2 days following steroid administration. When comparing 36 patients receiving corticosteroids for fetal maturation with 58 patients who were hospitalized for obstetrical complications before 34 weeks of pregnancy but that did not receive corticosteroids, VOC incidence was not significantly higher (41.7% vs 31.5%, P = 0.323).

Conclusion: The present study was the first to study the impact of prenatal corticosteroids on sickle cell disease. They were associated with more severe VOC, suggesting that steroids should be avoided in these women.