Asthma in Pregnancy
The effect of asthma in pregnancy is unpredictable. Asthma symptoms may improve, worsen, or remain the same during pregnancy. Most asthma medications are generally safe for both the mother and the baby. Women dealing with asthma in pregnancy may be able to limit their need for medicine by avoiding the things that can trigger symptoms associated with their condition.
Poorly controlled asthma can lead to serious medical problems for pregnant women and their babies. Learning to control asthma during pregnancy is important for the health and well-being of the mother as well as for the healthy development of the fetus.
Asthma affects over 20 million Americans and is one of the most common potentially serious medical conditions to complicate pregnancy. Maternal asthma is associated with increased risk of:
- Infant death
- Preeclampsia (a serious condition marked by high blood pressure, which can cause seizures in the mother or fetus)
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight.
These risks are linked to asthma severity -- more severe asthma increases risk, while better controlled asthma is tied to lower risks.
It is difficult to predict if asthma will improve or worsen with pregnancy. Asthma worsens in approximately 30 percent of women who have mild asthma at the beginning of their pregnancies, and asthma improved in 23 percent of the women who initially had moderate or severe asthma.
Many asthma medicines are safe for use during pregnancy. Inhaled medicines are generally preferred, because they are less likely to be passed on to the baby than oral medicines. However, oral medicines may be needed to control the symptoms. Talk with your doctor to make sure that your medicines are safe to take during pregnancy. Taking your asthma medicine helps make sure that your baby gets enough oxygen.
Albuterol, a short-acting, inhaled beta2-agonist, should be used as a quick-relief medication to treat asthma symptoms. Pregnant women with asthma should have this medication available at all times.