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Asthma is one of the most common respiratory illnesses worldwide. Furthermore, at least one to two per cent of all pregnant women experience something known as maternal asthma, making it a common complication during pregnancy. Another problem many pregnant women face is inflammatory bowel disease, which causes serious problems in the large intestine. Both these conditions are often treated by steroid medications such as prednisone. Is prednisone safe in pregnancy? Learn all about the benefits and side-effects of prednisone treatment during pregnancy.
What is Prednisone?
Prednisone is a corticosteroid which can be either given orally or through a nebuliser. This drug lowers the concentration of inflammation-causing molecules in the body. This medication is used to treat conditions affecting various parts of the body, allergies, including hormonal imbalances, connective tissue problems, ulcerative colitis, heart conditions, asthma, arthritis, and so on. Prednisone is most commonly recommended 1-4 times a day or every alternate day along with food.
Health Benefits of Prednisone in Pregnancy
There are several health benefits that taking prednisone during pregnancy can provide. Some of them are:
1. Treatment of Dermatological Conditions
Prednisone is very effective when it comes to treating skin ailments, such as eczema, contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, allergic rashes, psoriasis and so on. It is also known to regulate and maintain a stable balance of electrolytes in the bloodstream.
2. Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases
As prednisone controls the output of your immune system, it can control responses preventing the immune cells from attacking and killing the other healthy cells in the body. Autoimmune diseases like lupus are often prescribed with prednisone.
3. Treatment of Bone Problems
Various musculoskeletal ailments like chronic arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout are treated by prednisone.
4. Treatment of Endocrine Disorders
Endocrine or hormone-related conditions like nonsuppurative thyroiditis, hypercalcemia and adrenal hyperplasia can be treated by prednisone.
5. Treatment of Respiratory Ailments
Prednisone offers respite from the symptoms of many respiratory problems, including pneumonia, sarcoidosis, asthma, tuberculosis and Loeffler’s syndrome.
Side Effects of Taking Prednisone in Pregnancy
There are a few potential side effects that can arise from taking prednisone during your pregnancy. They include:
1. Digestive Conditions
Digestive ailments like stomach aches, gas, bloating, passing blood in the stools, nausea and pancreatitis can occur because of prednisone.
2. Birth Defects
Research has found that prednisone can slightly raise the likelihood of the foetus experiencing birth defects and low birth weight. However, prednisone in early pregnancy carries a smaller risk. Further, prednisone has been known to raise the risk of the baby developing an oral cleft by four times.
3. Preterm Labour
Prednisone, especially if consumed in its oral form, raises the risk of preterm labour, that is giving birth before the 37th week of pregnancy.
Consistent use of prednisone has been associated with symptoms of insomnia. In fact nearly, three-quarters of all patients on the medication complain of sleeplessness as a side-effect.
5. Increase in Weight
Around seventy per cent of prednisone patients experiences an increase in body weight because of prolonged use of prednisone.
Since prednisone is known to impact your health as well as your pregnancy, it pays to keep a few precautionary tips in mind before employing the medication:
- Always consult a doctor before using prednisone while you are pregnant. Further, please follow their dosage and timing recommendations strictly.
- Stopping the use of prednisone abruptly can cause lightheadedness, reduced blood pressure, breathing problems, drop in blood sugar and so on.
- Oral prednisone is more likely to affect the foetus as a higher amount enters the bloodstream, so you can obtain the inhalant form as an alternative.
Studies show that early term foetuses are not affected by prednisone mostly because the placenta prevents the drug from entering the amniotic fluid. Further, the baby’s liver is unable to activate prednisone until after the first trimester. Prednisone can cause severe complications in pregnant women but is often recommended even during pregnancy as the effects of the ailments treated by it are far worse.