Objectives The use of long-term corticosteroids during pregnancy has been growing over the past decades. Corticosteroids can be given when an auto-inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is too active. Several studies have shown that long-term corticosteroids use in pregnancy is associated with maternal and fetal adverse outcomes, like preeclampsia, shorter gestational age, lower birth weight, and rapid catch-up growth. These last two outcomes could influence the insulin resistance later in life. Our objective was to investigate whether prednisone use in pregnant women with RA induces insulin resistance in offspring.
Methods One hundred three children were included after their mother had participated in a prospective cohort study on RA and pregnancy. Forty-two children were in utero exposed to prednisone and 61 were non-exposed. To assess insulin resistance, we measured homeostasis model of assessment insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and serum adiponectin and lipid levels, corrected for body fat distribution.
Results An average of 6 mg prednisone on a daily use gave no difference in mean HOMA-IR (SD) between the children who were prednisone-exposed in utero (1.10 (0.84)) and those non-exposed (1.09 (0.49)). No difference was found in mean adiponectin level, body fat distribution, or lipid levels such as total cholesterol, fasting triglyceride, or high-density lipoprotein.
Conclusion Children who are prednisone-exposed in utero (low dose) have no increased risk for insulin resistance at the age of approximately 7 years. These findings are reassuring because the prednisone use during pregnancy is increasing worldwide. Further research has to be performed to evaluate if the insulin resistance remains absent in the future.
Bibliographical noteFunding This study was supported by the Dutch Arthritis Association
(Reumafonds), a non-proft fund-raising organization (DAA 08–1-306).
The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study, collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data, or in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.