The WHO ACTION-III Trial: antenatal corticosteroids for improving outcomes in preterm newborns

A multi-country, multi-centre, three-arm, parallel group, double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized trial of two doses of antenatal corticosteroids for women with a high probability of birth in the late preterm period in hospitals in low-resource countries to improve newborn outcomes.

The aim of this trial is to assess the benefits and possible harms of two regimens of antenatal corticosteroids, dexamethasone phosphate 4x6mg IM q12h and betamethasone phosphate 4x2mg IM q12h, compared to placebo, when given to pregnant women in the late preterm period (gestation age of 34+0 to 36+5 weeks) when they are at risk of preterm birth.


1 Jan 2022–⁠31 Dec 2025


  • WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/ WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP)
  • WHO Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health International Center for Maternal and Newborn Health
  • Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • KLE University’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Belgaum, Karnataka, India
  • Kenyatta National Hospital Nairobi, Kenya
  • University of Nairobi Nairobi, Kenya
  • University of Ibadan Nigeria
  • Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria
  • Aga Khan University Pakistan


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Professor Joshua Vogel

Principal Research Fellow; Deputy Discipline Head, International Development; Co-Head, Global Women's and Newborn's Health Group