Asthmatic women risk unborn child`s health

Last Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012 - 14:37

Sydney: Many pregnant asthmatic women, who may be remiss in using the right medication, may end up risking the health of their unborn child, a study reveals.

If asthma is not correctly managed during pregnancy it can result in premature births, low birth weights and even stillbirths, said postdoctoral researcher Annette Osei-Kumah from University of Adelaide.

Asthma is often worse during pregnancy due to different factors released from the placenta which cause inflammation in the mother`s lung, said Osei-Kumah.

Previous studies reveal that during pregnancy, one-third of women report their asthma is worse, one-third maintain their asthma remains the same and another third report an improvement, said a university statement.

However, most women underestimate the effect of asthma during their pregnancy, said Osei-Kumah.

"Most women who said their asthma didn`t change actually recorded poorer lung function when tested, and 55 percent experienced at least one asthma attack during pregnancy," she said.

There are sex-specific effects as well. Uncontrolled asthma invariably leads to low birth weights in female babies. Male babies, on the other hand, continue to grow normally but if a mother has an asthma attack during pregnancy they are less likely to survive.

Most women who are asthmatic stop using their medications during pregnancy due to fear of side-effects, but their concerns are unfounded, added Osei-Kumah.


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First Published: Monday, February 20, 2012 - 14:37

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