Safety of topical corticosteroids in pregnancy: A population-based cohort study

Ching Chi Chi*, Richard T. Mayon-White, Fenella T. Wojnarowska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

49 Scopus citations


Topical corticosteroids may be indicated in pregnant women with skin conditions, but their safety in pregnancy is unclear. We used the UK General Practice Research Database to conduct a population-based cohort study to investigate whether maternal exposure to topical corticosteroids results in adverse pregnancy outcomes. We identified 35,503 pregnant women prescribed topical corticosteroids during the period from 85 days before last menstrual period (LMP) to delivery or fetal death and 48,630 unexposed women. We found no associations of maternal exposure to topical corticosteroids with orofacial cleft (and its two subtypes, i.e., cleft lip palate (CLP) and cleft palate alone (CP)), preterm delivery, and fetal death (including miscarriage and stillbirth). The findings were similar when excluding exposure before LMP. In contrast, maternal exposure to potent/very potent topical corticosteroids shortly before and during pregnancy was significantly associated with fetal growth restriction (adjusted relative risk 2.08; 95% confidence interval 1.40-3.10; number needed to harm, 168), which was confirmed by a significant dose-response relationship (P0.025) and the sensitivity analysis excluding exposure before LMP. The increased risk for fetal growth restriction should be considered when prescribing potent/very potent topical corticosteroids to pregnant women, and appropriate obstetric care should be provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-891
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 04 2011


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