Should Newborns Be Given Steroids?

Updated on January 18, 2016
N.H. asks from Chula Vista, CA
15 answers

I know this sounds like a dumb question, but here is what happened: My second daughter was born last week. The day of her birth, the pedriatic nurse said that my daughter wasn't breathing as well as she'd like, probably because there was inflamation in her nose from procedures after the birth (personally, I thought it was because the maternity room we were in was hot, dry, and stuffy.) The nurse said a dose of the glucocorticosteroid, prednisolone, in my daughter's nose should clear up the inflamation and return her breathing to normal within a day. I didn't want to give my daughter such a strong drug so early, but was practically intimidated into it by the nurse. She said that if the breathing didn't clear up on it's own, then we'd have to stay in the hospital for more days and my daughter and I would be separated. I relented as that my daughter did start to weeze and snuffle more later in the day. We were released the next day and there haven't been any problems since - although, as mentioned, our house is much more comfortable than the stuffy hospital. But I'm looking online and not seeing any evidence of widespread use of this drug on newborns. The pedriatric nurse said that is "very common" to give this to newborns, but now I'm wondering if she is right and if this was potentially damaging to my child?

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answers from Washington DC on

This is a discussion you should have had with a pediatrician and should follow up with a pediatrician since you are still concerned.

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answers from Boston on

I think a newborn who is having trouble breathing and who starts to wheeze and sniffle is having many more issues than a stuffy hospital room would cause! If procedures were used during birth that could aggravate those sensitive tissues, I think it might have been an error on your part to attribute them just to the dry air. Babies don't necessarily react the way a mature adult would, you know? I understand the desire to not give drugs unnecessarily, and I'm in the same camp. But a one-time dose of a drug in a newborn who barely has mature lungs and other respiratory tissues really ought to be given every chance to survive! Pediatric nurses are extremely experienced and dealing with the most vulnerable patients, and you as the new mom were both exhausted and hormonal. Babies need a good start in life, and your infant was having trouble breathing - so although you felt intimidated, you might also look at it as being urged to pursue proper care. Yes, your house might be more comfortable in many ways, but it's quite likely that your baby did so well precisely because of the treatment, and not because your house isn't hot! You can consult with your pediatrician, and you should, but my guess is that this pediatric nurse, like so many other nurses in hospitals, made a potentially life-saving decision on your behalf and, because she was right there and hands-on with the baby, helped you out far more than a pediatrician would have who wasn't on the scene. Get off the internet, get some rest, and have some real conversations with pediatricians and their staff nurses who deal with this all the time!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

It sounds like the medication worked the way it was suppose to work. I would trust that the pediatric nurse knew what she was talking about from her schooling and her experience with newborns.

Also, one dose of a steroid up her nose doesn't sound the least bit harmful to me.

Enjoy your new daughter! Congratulations!!!

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answers from San Francisco on

Please ask your doctor not a bunch of strangers who don't have medical degrees!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Yes. It's fine.
Listen to your doctor and I know it's hard not to worry (I was super hormonal after giving birth for at least 3 days) but this is all standard procedure.
You have a newborn - catch up on your sleep when you can and stay off the computer.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I will promise you that this comes from the hospital's usual practice of caring for newborns. You have NO understanding of how much knowledge and experience ped nurses for newborns have. They can look at a baby's color and know how they are breathing or if they have any degree of jaundice. They can touch them and tell their temperature. These ped nurses are amazing.

You need to stop going on the internet and second guessing your baby's care. What you need to do is find a good ped practice with caring nurses on staff. They are worth their weight in gold. My firstborn had an ear infection before he was 6 months old, and his cheeks looked like someone had painted red balls on them. He was SO sick. She was on the phone with me several times while we waited for the meds to kick in, checking on his progress. I'll never forget it.

When you are thinking about whether or not a breathing medication is potentially damaging to your newborn, you need to also think about what would happen if you took that baby home and she stopped breathing. Or if the baby stayed in the hospital and her breathing got worse, what OTHER measures, invasive in nature, that the hospital may have ended up having to use. Breathing issues in newborns are nothing to play with. And they aren't caused by hot, stuffy maternity rooms.

Put your energies into taking care of your baby and being glad you had a successful birth and that your baby is now home with you.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Just as you would need a prescription to use certain drugs while at home, the nurses have to have a doctor's orders to administer them in the hospital. Doctors would only order such a drug if it was best for the patient.

New born babies are not too young to require medical intervention. Good to ask questions so that you understand why he/she made that recommendation.

The doctor's decision is based on extensive training and experience in the medical field; not just on this one doctor's opinion. Sounds like you did have a choice. The nurse/doctor is required to tell you the possible consequences of your decision. The nurse was telling you the reason that your baby needed the drug and what could happen if baby didn't get the drug.

Steroids have a long history of use. You've likely heard of difficulties caused by long term use. Those difficulties do not apply for the specialized steroid your baby needed. Remember that decisions are made based on the individual patient. Breathing is essential for life. I suggest that we need to look at the reasons for a drug based on a priority of needs. Breathing is much more important than the possible side affects of the drug. Without breath, people become sick and possibly die. Damage to the lungs can affect health for a lifetime.

Good to ask questions. Not helpful to think you know more than the doctor. Good to get a second opinion when in doubt. Not good to unilaterally go against doctor's orders without considering the consequences if one chooses to go against orders.

The nurse did not tell you of consequences to frighten you. She did not only because best practices require her to tell you but because your baby's health is her responsibility. When you say no, you are taking on the responsibility for any consequences that may happen.

I depend on my doctor's knowledge and experience when I make a decision. I weigh the good vs consequences. As the nurse explained, the good is taking home a healthy baby vs baby staying in hospital longer. In my view, I'd rather risk the side affects than put my baby's health at risk.

I've taken steroids several times and have not had any negative side affects. The steroids allow my body to heal. My granddaughter has eczema and asthma. She has needed the steroids to keep breathing and to have healthier skin. Her mom, my daughter, has an autoimmune disorder. Steroids allow her to be up and around. Otherwise, she's in bed. It's easy to focus on the negative aspects of drugs. We become anxious/afraid because of what we hear. It's essential to trust our doctor because we are not trained or experienced. He is. Our doctor not only knows from training and experience. He knows our individual situation. When we hear about others experiences we do not know their individual health needs.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

This is an excellent question to ask your child's pediatrician, not strangers on the internet. I'm sure you have a visit scheduled with him/her quite soon.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Why didn't you ask your pediatrician, who you should have seen before leaving the hospital...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

N., this is meant kindly.
For early parenthood, and in any matter of significant health issues, Google is not your friend. If the steriods helped, then be thankful you didn't have to come and visit your baby in the hospital. Many parents have no choice but to become well-acquainted with the NICU in the first days of their child's lives.

There are going to be a lot of things in parenting that you are going to second-guess. You chose to birth in a hospital because that was the best choice you felt you could make. Also remember that your daughter just came from what can only be described as a stuffy, warm environment. Heat loss is a very real issue for babies, and what might feel too warm to an adult human might be just warm enough for a baby, otherwise incubators might have been involved.

In short, nothing is going to be 100% perfect, from now and all throughout your child's life. Try to let go of this, take it with a grain of salt, and focus on healing yourself and taking care of baby. Don't let this become a consuming distraction for you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Well it's unfortunate you felt intimidated. Sounds like a no-nonsense nurse who was trying to advise you on what was best for your baby. Emotional time and upsetting to have a newborn who requires extra care - totally understand. But trust that the nurse is fully trained, experienced and maybe it was just their manner that upset you.
I think you have to weigh the pros vs cons - having your baby breathe better - worth it.
I thought it was fairly standard for wheezing or respiratory infections (?). I've heard of this.
The important thing is that they monitored your baby in the hospital before you were released. That's the one thing I would have been concerned about - side effects. Clearly there weren't any. Rest easy :) Stay off internet and rest up!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

A pediatric nurse in a delivery room/newborn setting would absolutely know what's what when it comes to your baby's health and what they give normally and not normally.

A friend of mine was born and has an asthma attack within hours. If they hadn't given her the strongest meds they could she would have been dead within moments. She's in her 60's now and they gave her steroids at birth to keep her alive. She still has to take them sometimes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Not trying to sound like a jerk, but that nurse knows a LOT more about what's a good idea and healthy to give to a sick baby than you do.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i don't think it's a dumb question. i'd have questioned it too. but where was the pediatrician? i'm betting a pediatric nurse knows her stuff, but i'd still want the information and administration to come from an actual physician.
'online' is a notoriously bad info provider, though. i'm sure the use of this drug isn't 'widespread' but it's even less likely that a pediatric nurse is just nefariously pushing dangerous drugs on your baby, KWIM?
ask your pediatrician.
mamas on MP count as 'internet research' in a case like this. in other words, no use other than support and encouragement. don't come to MP for important medical advice.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

If you don't trust their medical advice why did you have your child in a hospital? I am not saying that doctors and nurses know everything all the time, but the medication clearly worked and the baby is doing better, so what exactly is the problem? Since you clearly do not trust nurses and doctors to know how to do their jobs what do you plan to do next time your baby gets sick?

If you have serious concerns then talk them over with your Ped, if you trust him that is.

1 mom found this helpful
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