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Are steroids harmful for pregnant diabetics?

Q: My wife is carrying and is in her seventh month. The doctors have said that her sugar levels are high. She has been on insulin for quiet some time; today they have prescribed her some steroids. Is it safe for her and the baby to use steroids to control her sugar level? If not what may be impact on her and the baby?

A:I do not know what you mean by steroids, and in what dose they have been prescribed. My guess is that these are short term (for one day or so) and prescribed to accelerate the lung and organ maturity of the baby. If that is the case the use is logical, organ maturity in babies of diabetic mothers is delayed, and this means that even if the baby is more than 35/37 weeks or so the organ maturity may be like a premature baby. One way of accelerating this maturity is by giving steroids. Your apprehensions about steroids are justifiable but let me assure you that used properly in the right dose and under expert supervision and care, they are a safe bet, the risks are less than the benefits. The risk for the mother are mainly in control of the diabetes and not much less if used only for a day or two (as must have been prescribed). The only problem is that she may need more insulin than her usual dose as steroids increase the blood sugar levels marginally. So while taking steroids please check the blood sugar levels regularly. The affect in increasing blood sugars will be temporary and she should need her normal dose soon after the treatment; anyway as I understand the treatment is only for a day or so and only once till delivery of the baby. In fact the steroids are reasonably safe if the mother does not have any infection or other complications and are very good for the baby as it helps improve maturity. So please go ahead with the treatment as prescribed by your treating physician.

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