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Asthma and Pregnancy

Description

Asthma is a disease of the airways of the lungs, characterised by a reversible narrowing of these air passages. The narrowing limits the flow of air to the lung tissue. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough and wheezing.

Asthma During Pregnancy

In general, asthma is tolerated well during pregnancy and has minimal impact on the developing infant. However, severe asthma attacks can drastically lower the amount of oxygen in the motherís blood. If severe attacks are frequent or prolonged, the baby may grow very slowly and may be smaller than expected. Overall, there may be a slight increased risk to the baby, but the effect is small and should not be exaggerated.

Pregnancy does not have a predictable effect on asthma. Individuals may improve, remain unchanged or become worse. In general, the patients whose asthma becomes worse tend to be the ones with severe disease prior to becoming pregnant.
The majority of medications (e.g. bronchodilators and corticosteroids ) used in treating asthma do not seem to harm the developing baby. In general, the pregnant woman should remain on the pre-pregnancy medicines. However, a pregnant woman with asthma should consult her doctor about her condition.
Severe asthma attacks are dangerous and requires prompt medical attention.

Asthma During Labour

Asthma attacks are surprisingly rare during labour. Medications including inhalers can be used during labour. If the woman has needed to use oral steroids (such as Prednisone ) during pregnancy, intravenous steroids may be needed.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine & Prenatal Diagnosis: http://www.dhmc.org/


Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt
    (websites)


Asthma in Pregnancy
    From HONselect
     (def;articles & more)   

Asthma:
(www.allergyhealthonline.com)
AllergyHealthOnline: Allergy & Asthma Encyclopedia

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  http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/preexisting_conditions/asthma.html Last modified: Oct 21 2004