How will asthma affect my pregnancy?

Asthma is a common condition that occurs in 3 to 8 percent of pregnant people. During pregnancy, asthma symptoms may stay the same, improve or worsen. Asthma is associated with certain risks to pregnant people, such as an increased risk of preterm birth, low birth weight and preeclampsia. These risks increase significantly if asthma is not well controlled, and it is important to monitor your condition with you Ob provider. 

Treatment

Generally, asthma treatment for pregnant people is similar to treatment of non-pregnant people. Asthma treatment is a stepwise process, and the goal is to prevent asthma attacks and maintain asthma control. Many medications to treat and control asthma are safe in pregnancy. As with any medication in pregnancy, it’s important to weigh the risks and the benefits. It’s important to work with a provider who is experienced in treating asthma, and to let your provider know if you notice a change in your symptoms. If you are having an acute asthma exacerbation, it’s critical to get help right away.

Rescue inhalers – all pregnant people should have a short-acting inhaler for quick relief of symptoms, such as an albuterol inhaler.

Longer term asthma control – certain inhaled glucocorticoids (steroids) are preferred over others in pregnancy (such as budesonide, beclomethasone, or fluticasone). However, if asthma is well controlled by another agent, it may be important to continue to take it – check in with your Ob provider with any concerns! 

Labor – there are some medications for induction of labor and control of postpartum hemorrhage that should be avoided if you have a history of asthma. Make sure your providers know your medical history. 

Preventing asthma in children

If you and/or your partner have asthma, your child may be at risk of having asthma as well. For people whose children are at high risk for asthma, mounting evidence suggests that high-dose vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy may reduce this risk. Talk to your Ob provider about whether or not this may be right for you.