Moms: Controlling Asthma Helps Baby
Asthma Flares During Pregnancy Can Lead to Low Birth Weight
Nov. 9, 2005 -- Controlling asthma during pregnancy may be good for moms and
babies, researchers write in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
"Asthma is the most common chronic illness that complicates
pregnancy," write Vanessa Murphy, PhD, and colleagues.
Murphy works in the department of respiratory and sleep medicine at
Australia's University of Newcastle. Her study makes these points:
- Women with asthma often have severe asthma flares during pregnancy,
especially those with severe asthma.
- Women with severe asthma flares during pregnancy had associated birth
problems including low birth weight for baby boys.
Tracking Asthma Through Pregnancy
Murphy's study included 146 pregnant women with asthma. Their asthma was
classified as mild (63 women), moderate (34 women), or severe (49 women).
More than half of the women had worsening of their asthma during pregnancy
Severe worsening involved being admitted to a hospital, going to an
emergency room, making an unscheduled doctor visit, or taking steroids for
Severe worsening of symptoms was seen in 65% of women with severe asthma,
47% of those with moderate asthma, and 8% of those with mild asthma.
Consequences for the Baby?
Male newborns were more likely to be born at low birth weight if their
mothers had had a severe asthma flare during pregnancy compared with male
newborns whose mother did not have a severe flare, the researchers report.
Those baby boys were born an average of 300 grams lighter than boys born to
women who didn't have severe asthma problems during pregnancy.
"This is greater than the effect of maternal smoking during
pregnancy," write the researchers.
Asthma Causes Unclear
No one knows what caused those problems. Asthma may not have been
Women who had severe asthma problems while pregnant tended to gain less
weight during pregnancy. That could reflect poor maternal nutrition and
compromised fetal growth, the researchers write.
They urge patients to take care of asthma all the time, including during
"Improvements in asthma management to prevent severe exacerbations may
lead to a better outcome for both mother and baby," write Murphy and