Dexamethasone caused premature delivery when infused into foetal lambs at rates of 0·06–4·0 mg./24 hr. but it had no effect when administered to pregnant ewes at the rate of 4·0 mg./24 hr. Infusions into the foetus of deoxycorticosterone or corticosterone were ineffective; mixtures of dexamethasone and deoxycorticosterone did not cause parturition more rapidly than dexamethasone alone. Thus, the ability of corticosteroids to cause premature parturition appears to depend on glucocorticoid rather than mineralocorticoid activity.
Parturition induced by dexamethasone was not delayed by administration of 100 mg. progesterone/24 hr. to the ewe or to the foetus. This suggests either that withdrawal of inhibitory effects of progesterone on the myometrium can occur independently of the progesterone concentration in peripheral plasma, or that the mechanism of parturition provoked by corticosteroids in the foetus can override any regulatory influence of progesterone on myometrial contractility.
Partial aeration of the lungs was observed in lambs born vaginally at 117–123 days of gestation after receiving dexamethasone. It is suggested that this may be the result of accelerated appearance of surfactant activity.