Breathe Magazine has frequently focused on lung health and women’s issues. Women often have specific issues which need to be addressed. Women with asthma had a decreased rate of live births, and among the live births had an increased rate of both preterm deliveries and neonatal intensive care admissions. This data was derived from a review of insurance claims for more than one million American women during 2011-2015. Interestingly, the severity of asthma in these women did not play a role in the live birth rate.
Poorly controlled asthma is problematic for any patient, but especially for pregnant women. Barriers to good control include smoking, weight gain, under- treatment, poor adherence to treatment, and viral infections. These are some of the same barriers present for all asthma patients, but take on a special role in pregnant women.
I think it is important to remind all patients with asthma that their level of control cannot always be sensed. Many studies have shown that the level of control is frequently misinterpreted by the patient. Periodic evaluation, by a knowledgeable physician, and pulmonary function testing is needed to confirm the level of control.
The treatment for asthma in pregnant women is the same as it is for other patients. Concern is always present about the side effects and risks of medications during pregnancy. Fortunately, most of the standard inhaler therapies have been found to have a good safety profile in pregnancy. Healthy babies require healthy mothers.