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Pregnancy and Asthma

Pregnant women are often concerned about how their asthma might affect the health of their unborn baby. This concern is certainly valid, since asthma is one of the most common, potentially serious medical conditions to complicate pregnancy.

If your asthma is not controlled, risks can include:

  • High blood pressure during your pregnancy
  • Preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure and can affect your placenta, kidneys, liver, and brain
  • More than normal vomiting early in pregnancy
  • More complicated labor

Risks to your unborn baby from uncontrolled asthma can include:

  • Death immediately before or after birth
  • Abnormally slow intrauterine growth of the baby
  • Birth before the 37th week of pregnancy, called preterm birth
  • Low birth weight

However, it's important to note that although asthma can cause complications, having asthma does NOT increase your chances of having a baby with birth defects. In fact, studies show that asthma can be controlled with medication during pregnancy with little or no risk to you or your unborn baby.

Clearly, it's crucial that your asthma is controlled throughout your pregnancy. If you are having trouble breathing, your baby will also have trouble getting enough oxygen. The keys to controlling your asthma are to control your asthma triggers and to take the proper medications. Your providers will carefully consider the medications that you are taking, weighing the risks and benefits for both you and your baby.

Together with your healthcare providers, you will develop a specific asthma management plan during your pregnancy. Of course, it's always important for you to manage your asthma well, but during your pregnancy, you should be particularly diligent.

Your asthma management plan during pregnancy should include:

  • Learning more about your asthma and pregnancy
  • Identifying, controlling, and treating your asthma triggers during pregnancy
  • Using medications properly
  • Monitoring asthma
  • Developing an action plan

Ask your healthcare providers for suggestions about ways to learn more about your asthma.