Women who are pregnant with twins at risk of premature delivery have a reduced chance of infant death if they receive steroids, according to new research.
Twins and higher multiples of babies are as much as ten times more likely to be born prematurely compared to single babies and carry the risk of stillbirth or other harm.
Steroids are regularly used to reduce the chance of neonatal death, respiratory related death and other complications in newborns delivered well in advance of their due date.
However, studies of their use in these cases tend to look at single births expected to be born early and twins and higher multiples of babies as one group.
A new review of existing studies by researchers at the University of Aberdeen has concluded that that the use of steroids resulted in lower numbers of neonatal death and respiratory disease syndrome in twins.
Researchers from the Scottish university worked alongside colleagues from McGill University in Canada, and Monash University Australia and reviewed all relevant studies from across the world from 1974 to 2018.
Thy are now calling for twins to be included in future studies of this type as they are often underrepresented in clinical research.
Dr Sohinee Bhattacharya, from the University of Aberdeen, said: “This is an important review of existing literature as it has enabled us to look specifically at twins and see that they in particular are benefitting from the use of steroids.
“Our results tally with the Cochrane review and given our larger sample size, this should give clinicians further confidence that this is an appropriate treatment that results in improved outcomes for babies.
“Twins and other multiple births are often excluded from research as, due to their relatively rare nature, they are outliers in comparison to many single births. But it is essential that twins and higher numbers are included so that we can ensure that treatments are just as safe for them as it is for single birth babies.”
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