Administration of corticosteroids to pregnant animals can cause abnormalities of foetal development including cleft palate, intra-uterine growth retardation and affects on brain growth and development. There is no evidence that corticosteroids result in an increased incidence of congenital abnormalities, such as cleft palate in man, however, when administered for long periods or repeatedly during pregnancy, corticosteroids may increase the risk of intra-uterine growth retardation. Hypoadrenalism may, in theory, occur in the neonate following prenatal exposure to corticosteroids but usually resolves spontaneously following birth and is rarely clinically important. As with all drugs, corticosteroids should only be prescribed when the benefits to the mother and child outweigh the risks. When corticosteroids are essential, however, patients with normal pregnancies may be treated as though they were in the non-gravid state.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommended dosing for systemic prednisone, prednisolone, or methylprednisolone in pediatric patients whose asthma is uncontrolled by inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilators is 1–2 mg/kg/day in single or divided doses. It is further recommended that short course, or "burst" therapy, be continued until the patient achieves a peak expiratory flow rate of 80% of his or her personal best or until symptoms resolve. This usually requires 3 to 10 days of treatment, although it can take longer. There is no evidence that tapering the dose after improvement will prevent a relapse.
The severity of these complications correlates with the dosage, duration of use, and the potency of the steroid prescribed. While the incidence of steroid-induced myopathy does not appear to be directly related to the dosage of steroid prescribed nor the duration of use, it appears to be more prevalent with the use of steroids containing a 9-alpha fluorine configuration, such as triamcinolone (Aristocort®). The relationship between hypertensive side effects and the duration of therapy is also not very clear; steroids should be prescribed with greater caution in the elderly, in those individuals with known hypertension, and when compounds with greater mineralocorticoid properties are prescribed. As hyperglycemia is a well-known complication of corticosteroid use, oral steroids should be prescribed with caution in the diabetic population.