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Asthma pregnancy risk

Wednesday July 13th, 2011

Asthma may cause problems in pregnancy, according to experts.

It can increase the risks of low birth weight, preterm delivery, small size and the blood pressure problem pre-eclampsia, says Professor Peter Gibson of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia.

His team looked at research from 1975 to 2009. Overall, it suggests that asthma is linked to a significantly increased risk of low birth weight. On average, babies born to mothers with asthma weigh 93 grams less.

Their babies are also more likely to be small size for their gestational age, and be born prematurely. Mothers with asthma are at 50 per cent higher risk of pre-eclampsia - dangerously high blood pressure.

But the research also indicated that when asthma is managed with inhaled corticosteroids or inhaled short-acting beta agonists, the risks are much lower.

Full results appear in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Professor Gibson recommends monthly monitoring throughout pregnancy.

He said: "Asthma is a common chronic disease among pregnant women, and the extent of the risks for both the mother and baby make this a significant health issue.

"These results have implications for the antenatal care of pregnant women with asthma. Some of the reported complications may be minimised by effective asthma management strategies and it is important that this group of women and her developing baby are monitored regularly."

Editor of the journal, Professor Khalid Khan, commented: "This new research is important as it highlights the need for effective management of asthma and the need for increased monitoring. Controlling the condition should enable a woman to maintain a healthy pregnancy with little risk to her or the baby."

Murphy, V. et al. A meta-analysis of adverse perinatal outcomes in women with asthma. BJOG, published online July13, 2011.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Australia | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Pharmaceuticals | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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