In a landmark paper, Liggins and Howie showed that a single course of antenatal corticosteroid therapy administered to women at risk for preterm delivery (PTD) reduced the incidence and severity of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and mortality in offspring [ 1 ]. Over two dozen randomized trials have confirmed these findings [ 2 ]. Subsequent trials have also shown that antenatal corticosteroid therapy improves circulatory stability in preterm neonates, resulting in lower rates of intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) and necrotizing enterocolitis compared with unexposed preterm neonates.
Corticosteroids may play a useful role in cancer treatment. Since they are strongly anti-inflammatory they are sometimes prescribed to reduce swelling and pain. They may be used with other drugs to reduce nausea and vomiting created by chemotherapy treatment. They may also increase appetite. In a few types of cancer, specific corticosteroids are sometimes used with or without chemotherapy drugs to destroy cancer cells. It's important to note that while corticosteroids can be an important aspect of treatment in some types of cancer, they may not be helpful in all types.