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Asthma is a
fairly common health problem for pregnant women, including some women who have
never had it before. During pregnancy, asthma not only affects you, but it can
also cut back on the oxygen your
fetus gets from you. But this does not mean that
having asthma will make your pregnancy more difficult or dangerous to you or
your fetus. Pregnant women who have asthma that is properly controlled generally
have normal pregnancies with little or no increased risk to themselves or their
Most asthma treatments are safe to use when you are
pregnant. After years of research, experts now say that it is far safer to
manage your asthma with medicine than it is to leave asthma untreated during
pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the safest treatment for you.
you have not previously had asthma, you may not think that shortness of breath
or wheezing during your pregnancy is asthma. If you know you have asthma, you
may not consider it a concern if you only have mild symptoms. But asthma can
affect you and your fetus, and you should act accordingly.
your asthma is not controlled, risks to your health include:1, 2
Risks to the fetus include:1, 2
The more control you have over your asthma, the less risk
manage asthma the same way nonpregnant women do. Like all people with asthma,
pregnant women need to have an asthma action plan to help them control
inflammation and prevent and control
asthma attacks. Part of a pregnant woman's action plan
should be to record fetal movements. You can do this by noting
whether fetal kicks decrease over time. If you notice less fetal activity
during an asthma attack, contact your doctor or emergency help immediately to
Things to think about for asthma in
pregnant women include the following:
Many women also have
allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, along with asthma. Treating allergies is
an important part of asthma management.
A review of the
animal and human studies on the effects of asthma medicines taken during
pregnancy found few risks to the woman or her fetus. It is safer for a pregnant
woman who has asthma to be treated with asthma medicines than for her to have
asthma symptoms and asthma attacks.1 Poor control of
asthma is a greater risk to the fetus than asthma medicines are.1
Budesonide is labeled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the
safest inhaled corticosteroid to use during pregnancy. One study found that
low-dose inhaled budesonide in pregnant women seemed to be safe for the mother
and the fetus.3
Never stop taking or
reduce your medicines without talking to your doctor. You might have to wait
until your pregnancy is over to make changes in your medicine.
Always talk to your doctor before using any medicine when you are
pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program
(2005). Working Group Report on Managing Asthma During Pregnancy: Recommendations for Pharmacologic Treatment Update 2004 (NIH
Publication No. 05-5236). Available online:
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
(2008, reaffirmed 2009). Asthma in pregnancy. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 90. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 111(2): 457–464.
Silverman M, et al. (2005). Outcome of pregnancy in a
randomized controlled study of patients with asthma exposed to budesonide.
Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 95(6):
February 22, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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