About 7% of pregnant women are asthmatic but according to new research out of the Ohio State University Medical Center, not all of these women are getting the care they need. Two-thirds of the pregnant women studied were not given the same anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids given to non-pregnant patients. The pregnant women who were not treated were four times as likely to return to the ER with persistent symptoms.
Medical treatment is advised for controlling asthma in pregnant women: The risks of uncontrolled asthma in pregnancy far exceed the risks of most medications.
Ohio State asthma expert Jennifer McCallister, MD said, “When pregnant women presented for treatment of their mild or moderate asthma attacks, we found that they were treated differently than non-pregnant women. We also found that those women that were not treated as often with steroids tended to come back to the emergency department more often.”
If asthma is NOT controlled during pregnancy there can be serious problems, including impaired fetal growth and survival, premature birth, low birth weight, and blood pressure issues like pre-eclampsia. Basically, if mom’s breathing is compromised, the baby’s oxygen supply is compromised, too.
But if asthma is managed, there is no greater risk of complications during pregnancy and birth than there is for non-asthmatic women. So the bottom line is that it is important to control the asthma.My sister was treated for asthma during her pregnancies and wrote eloquently of her experiences here.
The authors of the study call for increased education; they want pregnant women to understand that managing asthma with medication is safe. Seems like some ER physicians could use a debriefing as well.