Hydrocortisone (100 mg in a single injection) was given to 120 pregnant women with threatened premature delivery. None was given to a control group of 40 mothers. Orciprenaline was also given to all the mothers to inhibit uterine activity. The administration of hydrocortisone did not accelerate delivery and in the treated group 55 babies were eventually born at term; none died or had perinatal complications. 65 babies were born prematurely, and yielded these conclusions; if the mother received hydrocortisone less than 24 hours before delivery it had little or no influence on the incidence of and mortality from the respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). If birth occurred more than 24 hours after hydrocortisone injection, the incidence and mortality from RDS were lowered. Prolonged rupture of membranes had no effect on the mortality rate from RDS. It was concluded that hydrocortisone administered to mothers with threatened delivery is an effective means of mitigating the incidence and severity of RDS in infants.
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