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Do antenatal steroids cause an increase in the white blood cell  (WBC) count?

Antenatal betamethasone or dexamethasone therapy appears to cause a transient increase in the maternal white blood cell count. The mean WBC  increases by about 30% within 24 hours.  A rise in the neutrophil count and drop in the lymphocyte count has been noted as early as two hours after the first injection of betamethasone. In most patients the  WBC count returns to baseline on day three following the first betamethasone or dexamethasone injection.



1. Danesh A, et. al., .Effects of antenatal corticosteroids on maternal serum indicators of infection in women at risk for preterm delivery: A randomized trial comparing betamethasone and dexamethasone.J Res Med Sci. 2012 Oct;17(10):911-7.PMID:23825988
2. Vaisbuch E, et al., The effect of betamethasone administration to pregnant women on maternal serum indicators of infection.J Perinat Med. 2002;30(4):287-91. PMID:12235715
3. Kadanali S,et. al.,  Changes in leukocyte, granulocyte and lymphocyte counts following antenatal betamethasone administration to pregnant women.Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1997 Sep;58(3):269-74.
4. Wallace EM, et al. Haematological effects of betamethasone treatment in late pregnancy.Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1998 Nov;38(4):396-8.

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