A study suggests that giving the drug betamethasone to pregnant women at risk of late-preterm delivery is cost effective. Betamethasone is a steroid drug for assisting in late-preterm delivery occurring between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation.
Researchers say that hospital stays for infants whose mothers received the drug were less costly. This is in comparison to the stays for those mothers who did not take the medicine.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is a part of the National Institute of Health. This institute funded the research group involved in this study. The research group was Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network National Institutes of Health. The study appears in JAMA Pediatrics.
What did they do in the research?
This study is a continuation of an old study. The first study was Antenatal Late Preterm Steroids trial. This study was a multicenter randomized clinical trial. Researchers checked the efficiency of the antenatal corticosteroid drugs in pregnant women.
They selected women at risk for late preterm delivery. In the trial, the researchers gave the drugs to one group and placebo to the other. Medicaid rates including the betamethasone decided the overall maternal costs. It also covered the outpatient visits and inpatient stays as well. Researchers included all direct medical costs for newborn care.
They graded all exceptional cases. These cases involved infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Researchers graded the costs according to the acuity of respiratory illness. Researchers used the cost estimates from literature for infants admitted to the regular newborn nursery.
They gauged the viability as the extent of babies without the essential result of the investigation. This result was a composite of many treatments. One treatment was 72 hours of positive airway pressure. Then newborns had to undergo high-stream nasal cannula for 2 hours.
The nasal cannula is a device used to deliver increased airflow to the infant. The next stage was supplemental oxygen for 4 hours or more. Doctors also opted for mechanical ventilation in some cases.
What were the results of this study?
Researchers determined the cost of 1426 mother-infant pairs in the betamethasone group. Most of the mothers were around 30 years of age. Out of the total 1426 pairs, 58% were white. There were 1395 mother-infant pairs in the placebo group.
Out of the total 1395 pairs, 57% were white. Pairs undergone treatment with betamethasone had a total mean cost of $4681. Pairs undergone the delivery without the drug had a total mean cost of $5379. The total difference was of $698. Overall, the trial determined that betamethasone use is effective.
How this research is useful?
Antenatal betamethasone treatment induced a statistically significant decrease in health care costs. There were also improved outcomes. Moreover, respiratory morbidity rate also decreased by 2.9%. Therefore, the cost-effectiveness ratio was −23 986. Inspection further confirmed that treatment was an effective strategy.
All in all, this experiment is one of the emphasizing factors that acknowledge the drug betamethasone’s potential at the risk of late-preterm delivery