Asthma is the most common respiratory problem seen in pregnancy. It is a condition wherethe muscles of the air passages go into spasm (due to some trigger)and that leads to tightness in the chest, breathlessness, cough/wheezy breathing and sometimes chest pain. Pregnancy itself does not usually alter the severity of asthma. Most of the times pregnancy is unaffected by it provided the disease is under control however uncontrolled and severe asthma takes its toll on the mother and the developing child.
Certain conditions can lead to the worsening of asthma in pregnancy:
They are young age,low socioeconomic status, poorly controlled/ severe asthma prior toconceiving and GERD (where there is a tendency of the acid in thestomach to come in the food pipe).
The bad effects of asthma in pregnancy especially the uncontrolled and severe one are:
Risks in delivery: Risk of preterm delivery (before the due date), risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure), excessive vomiting of pregnancy , low birth babies risk of bleeding from the vagina and certain complications during delivery.
Birth defects: In the new born it can cause birth defects (which can be side effect of the medications) , low blood sugars immediately after delivery, need for admission in an ICU and an increased risk of asthma later on in life. In general these risks are small and are generally associated with the control of asthma.
Asthma in Pregnancy can be managed:
We are usually able tocontrol asthma in pregnancy with careful medical management andavoiding medicines which can cause birth defects. Patient education and ressuarance ideally prior to planning a pregnancy regarding thesafety of use of medicines are an important step in management.Treatment of asthma in pregnany is a little different than in nonpregnant. It is poorly controlled asthma which is more dangerousrather than the medicines used for the treatment. The inhalers(steroid/bronchodilator) are usually the preferred choice oftreatment and one should not stop or decrease the dose as it cancause dangerous worsening of the problem.
So asthma is not the reason to avoid pregnancy rather one needs to discuss the problemwith the doctor ,avoid the triggers and take the safe medicinesprescribed by the gynaecologists!