Glucocorticoids in pregnancy.
Pofi R., Tomlinson JW.
The physiological changes that occur during pregnancy include altered regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. The fetoplacental unit plays a major role in this, together with alteration of circulating cortisol-binding globulin levels, with a net effect to increase both total and free cortisol levels. Importantly, there are several pathological conditions that require steroid treatment or replacement during pregnancy, and optimizing therapy is clearly crucial. The potential for acute and chronic adverse effects that can impact upon both the mother and the fetus makes the decision of how and when to instigate steroid therapy particularly challenging. In this review, we describe the physio-pathological changes to the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis that occur during pregnancy, tools to assess endogenous glucocorticoid reserve as well as discuss treatment strategies and the potential for the development of adverse events.