Asthma may lead to premature births

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UK study researchers review of asthma studies found that there is a higher probability of premature births and smaller babies for women with asthma. Experts advise women to manage their asthma during pregnancy, maintain a balanced diet and to not smoke while pregnant.

Does asthma cause premature births?

Does asthma cause premature births?

BBC news has reported that women with poorly-managed asthma may have a higher chance of giving birth early or having a small baby.

Experts in Australia and the US also found a link with other complications, including pre-eclampsia.  They say asthmatic women should be monitored at least monthly during their pregnancy.  An asthma charity advises mums-to-be should also eat a balanced diet and not smoke.

The researchers looked at asthma studies involving more than a million pregnant women published between 1975 and 2009.  During which, women with asthma gave birth to babies weighing on average 93g less than the babies of mothers without asthma.  Having asthma increased a mother’s risk of pre-eclampsia by at least 50%, while risks of pre-term birth were increased by about 25%.

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Peter Gibson, of the Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases at the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle, Australia, is a co-researcher on the study.

He said: “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.”

Asthma medications themselves do not seem to have direct effects on the mother or baby during pregnancy, experts said in the study, published in the journal BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.  The journal’s editor-in-chief Professor Philip Steer said the main message to pregnant women with asthma was to make sure their symptoms were managed properly.

He said: “It’s important to optimise your treatment to lower your risk of a preterm birth or a small baby.”

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Support and advice

Leanne Metcalf, Assistant Director of Research at Asthma UK, said the research would help make healthcare professionals more aware of the importance of effective asthma management during pregnancy.

She said: “We encourage pregnant women who have asthma to be monitored regularly throughout their pregnancy and it is crucial that medical professionals are sympathetic to their concerns and provide the support and advice they need.  It is also important that all mums-to-be eat a healthy balanced diet and not smoke during pregnancy to give their baby the best possible chance of a healthy childhood.”

Similarly in Singapore, Singhealth reports that about a third of asthmatics worsen during pregnancy. Uncontrolled asthma causes a reduction in oxygen content in the mother’s blood. Since the fetus gets its oxygen from the mother’s blood, this may lead to impaired fetal growth and survival. Properly controlled asthma does not increase the risk of maternal or infant complications and is essential during pregnancy. Therefore, it is highly important to consult your doctors in order to manage your asthma during pregnancy.  Early management will help reduce this probability.  Mummies with asthma, we want to hear from you.  Share with us how you control your asthma during pregnancy?

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Source: BBC, SingHealth

Photo credit: Ladyzona

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