Antenatal corticosteroids (ANC) reduce mortality and morbidity in preterm babies, but prescription practices vary.
To assess obstetricians’ compliance with the recommendations of the Australian and New Zealand clinical practice guidelines on use of ANC.
Materials and Methods
An anonymous online questionnaire was distributed to Fellows of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
All respondents reported prescribing an initial course of ANC according to the guidelines if preterm birth at 28 weeks’ gestation was expected within 24 or 72 h. However, 22% reported prescribing ANC even if birth was not expected within seven days. This was reported more often by practitioners not using adjunct tests to predict preterm birth (14% vs 69%; P < 0.001). An initial course of ANC at ≥35 weeks was prescribed by 52% of respondents. However, 93% reported prescribing ANC at ≥35 weeks prior to elective caesarean section. Repeat courses of ANC were prescribed by 76% of respondents. Of these, 89% reported prescribing repeat courses beyond the guideline recommendations at ≥33 weeks and 29% exceeded the recommendations on number of repeat courses. Conclusions For infants born at <35 weeks, current ANC prescribing patterns in Australia and New Zealand are consistent with the guideline recommendations and result in high rates of administration in this group. However, administration of ANC to groups where benefits have not been demonstrated is commonly reported. Adherence to the guideline recommendations would decrease ANC exposure to babies for whom there is no strong evidence of benefit.