Antenatal Corticosteroid Treatment (ACT)
For millions of expectant women who experience the warning signs of premature birth each year around the world, the day before birth may be the most important day of their baby’s life. Steroid treatment offered ideally 48 hours before delivery is one of the most-effective treatments to improve the survival and health of infants born prematurely between 24 and 34 weeks gestation. Top healthcare institutions in developed countries generally comply with treatment guidelines. Yet in the United States, for example, out of the 170,000 women who actually deliver early (24-34 weeks) annually, more than half deliver within 48 hours of hospital admission and therefore fail to get optimal treatment.
If all eligible for antenatal steroids were fully treated in the US, more than 1,000 newborn lives might be saved, and more than 3,000 cases of respiratory distress syndrome could be avoided. Such an improvement would represent a 5 percent reduction in US neonatal mortality rates. Recent research estimates the number of newborn lives saved through full treatment with antenatal steroids might be as high as 500,000 worldwide.
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