Asthma During Pregnancy - Topic Overview
Asthma is a
fairly common health problem for pregnant women, including some women who have
never had it before. During pregnancy, asthma not only affects you, but it can
also cut back on the oxygen your
fetus gets from you. But this does not mean that
having asthma will make your pregnancy more difficult or dangerous to you or
your fetus. Pregnant women who have asthma that is properly controlled generally
have normal pregnancies with little or no increased risk to themselves or their
Most asthma treatments are safe to use when you are
pregnant. After years of research, experts now say that it is far safer to
manage your asthma with medicine than it is to leave asthma untreated during
pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the safest treatment for you.
Risks of uncontrolled asthma to pregnant women
you have not previously had asthma, you may not think that shortness of breath
or wheezing during your pregnancy is asthma. If you know you have asthma, you
may not consider it a concern if you only have mild symptoms. But asthma can
affect you and your fetus, and you should act accordingly.
your asthma is not controlled, risks to your health include:1, 2
Risks to the fetus include:1, 2
- Abnormally slow growth of the fetus
(intrauterine growth retardation). When born, the baby appears
- Birth before the 37th week of pregnancy (preterm
- Low birth weight.
- Death immediately before or after birth
The more control you have over your asthma, the less risk
Asthma treatment and pregnancy
manage asthma the same way nonpregnant women do. Like all people with asthma,
pregnant women need to have an asthma action plan to help them control
inflammation and prevent and control
asthma attacks. Part of a pregnant woman's action plan
should be to record fetal movements. You can do this by noting
whether fetal kicks decrease over time. If you notice less fetal activity
during an asthma attack, contact your doctor or emergency help immediately to
Things to think about for asthma in
pregnant women include the following:
- If more than one health professional is
involved in the pregnancy and asthma care, they must communicate with each
other about treatment. The obstetrician must be involved with asthma
- Monitor lung function carefully
throughout your pregnancy to ensure that your growing fetus gets enough oxygen.
Because asthma severity changes for about two-thirds of women during pregnancy,
you should have monthly checkups with your doctor to monitor your symptoms and
lung function.1 Your doctor will use either
spirometry or a
peak flow meter to measure your lung
- Monitor fetal movements daily after 28
your asthma is not well controlled or if you have moderate or severe
asthma, think about having ultrasounds after 32 weeks to monitor fetal growth.1Ultrasound exams can also help your doctor
check on the fetus after an asthma attack.
- Try to do more to
avoid and control asthma triggers (such as tobacco smoke or
dust mites), so that you can take less medicine if
possible. Many women have nasal symptoms, and there may be a link between
increased nasal symptoms and asthma attacks.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is
common in pregnancy, may also cause symptoms.
- It is important that
you have extra protection against the flu (influenza). Get the flu vaccine as soon as it's available, whether you are in your first, second, or third trimester at the
time. The flu vaccine is effective for one season.
flu shot(What is a PDF document?) is safe in pregnancy and is recommended for all pregnant