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Asthma During Pregnancy

Did you know having asthma during pregnancy can pose health risks for both you and your baby? For many parents the last thing you want to worry about is another complication during pregnancy. Dr. Purvi Parikh from the Allergy & Asthma Network took time to answer a few of our questions on having asthma while being pregnant.

Can asthma symptoms improve or possibly get worse during pregnancy?

Asthma symptoms can both improve or get worse in pregnancy. Generally, one third of women get better, one third get worse, and one third have their symptoms stay the same.

How can oxygen deprivation be dangerous for the fetus and how can pregnant women avoid this?

Any harm to the mother can affect the baby. The biggest risk is if the mom is having an untreated asthma attack there is a risk that oxygen flow to the fetus is compromised. The best way to avoid it is that if you are a known asthmatic, especially during pregnancy, to get on controller medications and work closely with a specialist to be sure you are getting adequate treatment. If you never had asthma and are experiencing symptoms during pregnancy it is important to be evaluated promptly so you are on appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Also, recognize your early symptoms of an attack and address them early before the situation becomes harder to manage.

Which medications for asthma are safe or potentially harmful during pregnancy?

Budesonide is a category B controller medication and is safe in pregnancy. Singulair or Montelukast is also category B and safe pregnancy. Rescue inhalers such as albuterol are safe too, but if you are using them too frequently you need to be placed on a controller medication. Sometimes, even the category C medications are used to control asthma under the guidance of a pulmonologist or allergist if the asthma is very severe as uncontrolled asthma carries higher risk for the fetus than the medication.

How can a pregnant women reduce the chance of having an asthma attack if they have asthma? 

They should use their prescribed controller medications regularly and identify their triggers so that they can potentially avoid them and thus avoid flare ups.

When should a pregnant women with asthma seek emergency medical treatment?

A pregnant woman should seek emergency medical treatment when her asthma symptoms do not come under control from her quick relief/rescue inhaler. So any signs of persistent coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or fatigue due to breathing problems.

Can pregnant women still receive allergy shots and the flu shot while pregnant?

Yes, pregnant women can still receive allergy shots- we just keep them at the same dose so that they are less likely to have any reactions. Most of our pregnant women do well and it prevents them from any allergy flare ups triggering their asthma. Yes, pregnant women can receive flu shots and it is highly recommended since the flu can be much more dangerous for pregnant women if they catch it.

Read more about asthma:

 Combating Asthma

Asthma vs Allergies

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