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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Intranasal triamcinolone use during pregnancy and the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes

It’s not surprising that expecting mothers carry a lot of weight in their bellies.  But they also carry a lot of weight on their shoulders.  What to do, and what not to do, complicates nearly every decision when there’s a second person to think about, even the relatively minor act of using a nasal steroid spray to treat allergic rhinitis.  Fortunately for them, Dr. Berard and colleagues conducted a study to help address these concerns (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2016; 138(1): 97-104).
They looked at nearly 300,000 pregnancies in Montreal between 1998 and 2008 to find pregnant women who took intranasal triamcinolone as well as other intranasal steroids.  They then looked at the number of major abnormalities at birth, spontaneous loss of pregnancies, and underweight newborns, and compared the rates to those who did not use intranasal triamcinolone. 
For the most part, the results are comforting.  They suggest that there is no link between using intranasal triamcinolone (and, by extension, all nasal steroid sprays) and major birth abnormalities or spontaneous fetal loss.  However, out of 296 pregnancies, there were 5 cases of respiratory defects in babies born to mothers who used triamcinolone during the first trimester.  This was a statistically significant finding.  Of note, no link between respiratory defects and other nasal steroid sprays could be found.
The implications of this study are also covered in an accompanying editorial by Drs. Namazy and Schatz, who praise the importance of the study, the first of its kind trying to determine the safety of nasal steroids during pregnancy (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2016; 138(1): 105-106).  They also mention that controlling allergic rhinitis during pregnancy may be helpful in preventing snoring, which is linked to hypertension during pregnancy.Namazy and Schatz try to make sense of why triamcinolone may be correlated with respiratory defects.  It may be due to unmeasured confounders, but that is unlikely since these confounders were present in both the triamcinolone and non-exposed groups.  Or perhaps it’s a biologic effect of triamcinolone, since animal studies of intramuscular triamcinolone have shown similar defects.  Or, it may just be due to pure chance.

Regardless, the authors suggest that, to be on safe side, intranasal steroids like fluticasone or mometasone should be used instead of triamcinolone during the first trimester.  

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