Asthma Warning for Pregnant Women

It may surprise some of our readers to learn that asthma is the most common serious complication of pregnancy.  In fact, up to 55% of women will have at least one acute asthma attack during pregnancy.

Pregnancy may affect asthmatic patients in several ways. Hormonal changes may affect the nose, sinuses and lungs. An increase in estrogen contributes to congestion of the tiny blood vessels in the lining of the nose. A rise in progesterone causes increased respiratory drive, and a consequent feeling of shortness of breath.

Yet, despite this, many pregnant women are just not identified as asthmatic. All too often asthma is not reported by moms-to-be during antenatal visits and is therefore under-treated. Then there are those who know they have asthma but fail to take their controller medications for fear they harm the baby.

Such concerns appear to be unjustified.  According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI), well-controlled asthma is not associated with significant risk to mother or fetus.

Uncontrolled asthma, on the other hand, can cause serious complications to the mother, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • toxemia
  • premature delivery
  • death

For the baby, complications of uncontrolled asthma include:

  • increased risk of stillbirth
  • fetal growth retardation
  • premature delivery
  • low birth weight
  • a low APGAR score at birth

The Pregnancy Committee of ACAAI advises that the risks of asthma medications are lower than the risks of uncontrolled asthma. They suggest that women discuss the use of asthma or allergy medication needs with their doctor, ideally before pregnancy.

SRxA’s Word on Health would like to hear your asthma and pregnancy stories.