Antenatal steroid therapy and childhood asthma: Is there a possible link?
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This paper presents a hypothesis that fetal exposure to corticosteroids is an independent risk factor for the development of asthma in childhood. The prevalence of childhood asthma saw a dramatic rise from the 1980s up until the early 2000s. Among the explanations for the increase in asthma prevalence included interest in exposures arising in the gestational period. Overlapping the time period of the increasing prevalence of childhood asthma is the increased use of antenatal corticosteroid therapy for fetal lung maturation. Through an examination of the published literature, a time dependent association between year of birth (and hence exposure to the antenatal corticosteroids) and the relationship between preterm birth and childhood asthma is noted. A brief review of the trends in the prevalence of asthma, the use of antenatal corticosteroids including their established latent effects and the time dependant association between preterm birth and the risk of childhood asthma are provided.
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