Indian Journal of Ophthalmology

: 1983  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 844--846

Congenital cataract and maternal ingestion of corticosteroids

SK Angra 
 Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
S K Angra
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centrefor Ophthalmic Sciences, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi 110029

How to cite this article:
Angra S K. Congenital cataract and maternal ingestion of corticosteroids.Indian J Ophthalmol 1983;31:844-846

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Angra S K. Congenital cataract and maternal ingestion of corticosteroids. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1983 [cited 2022 Oct 2 ];31:844-846
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The association of the cataract with local and systemic cortico-steroids ingestion is well established. But association of congenital cataract with maternal corticosteriod inges­tion has been reported only in one human case by Kraus.[1]

An attempt has been made to present foul such cases of congenital cataract in infant with maternal ingestion of corticosteroids dur­ing pregnancy.


Four infants have been brought with bilat­eral cataracts. There is a definite evidence of mothers having taking cortico steroids in an­tenatal period for various medical indications like asthma, colitis, Rheumatic problems etc

The morphological details of cataracts are described in [Table 1] [Figure 1][Figure 2][Figure 3][Figure 4].

All laboratory examinations for evidence of any metabolic disease were completely nega­tive. Rubella aetiology and genetic aetiology have also been excluded in these cases.


Our documentation of association of con­genital cataract and maternal ingestion of cor­ticosteroid gives clinical support to the obser­vations of Krause[1] who has described one such case.

The transplacental passage of corticos­teriods has been demonstrated (Beitins[2] 1972). Rogoyski et al[3] has also shown that there is relatively high incidence of cataract in mouse foetus when injections of Hydrocor­tisone were given to mother mouse. There was statistically significant correlation bet­ween the number of congenital abnormalities and cataract in foetus and stage of gestation at which corticosteriods has been administered to pregnant mice. This supports the ter­ratogenic effects of corticosteriods. But in our cases besides cataract, one case showed low degree of microphthalmos. No other congeni­tal abnormality has been seen in our cases.

The cataracts noticed by us were bilateral and complete in three cases. One case had nuclear cataract which was similar to that re­ported by Krause.[1] There was good amount of hydration and lenticular fibre swellings to allow us to complete simultaneous Aspiration Irrigation in single stage in our cases. In com­parison to this, the corticosteroid induced cataract in adults cases on corticosteroid inges­tion is posterior subcapsular and show irides­cence, which was not present in our cases.

The mechanism of cataract formation in foetus is not clear. Based on the fact that cor­ticosteroids effect the transport of water and increase the permeability of lens membranes to cations, and the morphology of the cataracts we have observed, we feel it is osmo­tic type of mechanism which operates in con­genital cataracts with maternal conticosteroids ingestion.


Congenital cataracts with maternal inges­tion of corticosteroids has been described in four cases.


1Kraus, A, 1975, J. Ped. Ophthalmol. 12:107.
2Beitins E.E., 1972, J. Pediatr. 81, 935.
3Rogoyski, A and Trzcinska- Dabrowska Z., 1969. Amer J. Ophthalmol. 68:128.