A trial for a drug normally used for planned Caesarean pregnancies has just been given the green light in New Zealand.
The study, which is being conducted by Associate Professor Katie Groom of the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute, aims to assess the benefit and potential harm the drug has on newborn babies.
It is one of 47 new studies awarded a total of $71.58 million in the Health Research Council’s latest funding results released today.
Ms Groom has been awarded $1.43 million of that fund to lead a nationwide placebo-controlled, randomised trial into the effects of maternal corticosteroid use prior to planned Caesarean at between 35 to 39 weeks of pregnancy.
The associate professor says corticosteroids administered in earlier stages of pregnancy have well-established benefits for babies born prematurely, but little is known about their use at near or full-term.
She says the trial will address a serious evidence gap and will reliably inform future practice across New Zealand and globally.
“There is low-quality evidence on respiratory benefits, minimal evidence on long-term effects, and no evidence of their effect on blood-sugar levels,” said Ms Groom.
“The steroids might help babies with breathing, but they might also disrupt glucose control, which could be detrimental in the long-term, so our trial will look at the balance of benefit versus potential harm.”
She says high-quality evidence is required to allow women with planned Caesareans to make informed decisions about their treatments.