Pregnancy and Asthma
Expectant mothers who have asthma are often anxious. Their anxiety is usually related to to following concerns:
- Will the asthma adversely affect my pregnancy or my baby?
- Will pregnancy adversely affect my asthma?
- Can asthma medicines be taken safely in pregnancy?
- Will my child also have asthma?
They need not be unduly concerned. Well managed and well controlled asthma does not create problems during pregnancy and delivery; neither for the mother and nor for the baby. Let us discuss the above mentioned concerns in some detail.
Effect of asthma on pregnancy and the fetus:
Uncontrolled asthma means that the mother is not getting enough oxygen. This naturally has adverse consequences for the mother, continuation of pregnancy and on the fetus in the mother. Well controlled asthma leads to a normal pregnancy, normal delivery and a normal child.
Effect of pregnancy on Asthma:
What happens to asthma when a woman becomes pregnant? The data on this is interesting. In 1/3rd of the cases the asthma becomes worse, in 1/3rd it actually becomes better and in 1/3rd it remains the same. The experience of the last pregnancy is likely to be repeated in the next or subsequent pregnancy. It is usually observed that:
- If worsening is to occur it usually occurs between 28th to 36th week of pregnancy
- In the last 4 weeks of pregnancy some improvement of asthma is usual
- Problems during labour or soon after are very rare (provided the asthma was well controlled during pregnancy)
Safety of asthma medicines in pregnancy:
Pregnant women dislike taking medicines in pregnancy. This is generally speaking a good policy. But one must also remember that uncontrolled asthma with consequent lack of oxygen to the mother and the fetus has far more serious effects.
Fortunately most asthma medicines have been found to be safe for use in pregnancy. It is very important to keep asthma under good control during pregnancy and if medicines are required to achieve that goal, then they must be taken.
Will the child also have asthma?
Asthma is a genetic disease which runs in families. So if the mother has asthma, chances are more that the child might also have asthma (later in life). This chance is 20-30%. But if the father also has asthma (or some other allergy) the chances increase to around 50-60 %.
- Well controlled asthma has no bad effects on pregnancy, mother or the new born.
- Asthma medicines are safe in pregnancy. Consult the doctor for details.
- Just as one is so careful about diet, rest, vitamins during pregnancy (so that the fetus gets enough nutrition) should we not be careful that the mother I getting full oxygen?!