Pregnancy Effects on Asthma Severity Studied

Severity similar to year before pregnancy if asthma medication taken appropriately
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Asthma is not likely to worsen during pregnancy as long as women continue to take the appropriate medication, according to a study in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology; however, if medication is discontinued, even mild asthma is likely to significantly worsen.

Kathleen Belanger, Ph.D., of the Yale University School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues interviewed 641 pregnant women (before 24 weeks' gestation) regarding asthma symptoms and medications. Asthma was classified as intermittent in 368 women, mild persistent in 129 women, and moderate or severe in 144 women.

The researchers found that only pre-pregnancy severity and appropriate use of medication had significant and profound effects on the course of asthma. Using recommended medications was associated with a significantly reduced risk of worsening asthma in women with intermittent asthma (odds ratio, 0.38) and mild persistent asthma (odds ratio, 0.48) but not moderate or severe asthma (odds ratio, 0.71). There was no significant association between month or trimester of gestation and changes in asthma severity.

"Asthma severity during pregnancy is similar to severity in the year before pregnancy, provided patients continue to use their prescribed medication," the authors conclude. "If women discontinue medication, even mild asthma is likely to become significantly more severe."

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