Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs. If you are expecting a child, asthma may have an impact on your health or the health of the baby. Find out how you can avoid the risk factors and follow a safe treatment.
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What Is Asthma?
Asthma during pregnancy, as an allergy, represents a respiratory disorder which requires a long-term treatment, occasionally even for the whole life. The illness produces difficulties in the oxygenation of tissues as well as in the ability of the person to function properly. The pregnancy itself, which is a natural phenomenon, needs more of the normal body functioning. In this case, a pregnancy of a woman suffering from asthma is possible in the conditions in which its follow-up, treatment and balancing her respiratory functions is done as a team by the internist, pneumologist and obstetrician.
Types of Asthma
Bronchial asthma can consist of 3 types:
- Allergic asthma (extrinsic): This is the most common type of asthma and occurs mostly during childhood. This type enters into remission at maturity, but it can occur later again.
- Intrinsic asthma: This type of asthma is less common and occurs generally after an infection involving the respiratory tract.
- Occupational asthma: This type of asthma is gained from the exposure to industrial dust at work or chemical substances.
Age isn`t taken into consideration when it comes to this medical condition. It may affect people at any age, but it mostly occurs during childhood. Children who frequently experience respiratory infections or wheezing breathing are at higher risk of developing this illness before 6 years of age. Among kids, boys are more affected than girls while among adults, women are more affected than men. It isn`t yet known if sex hormones have any role in triggering this disease. Most people who suffer from it have allergies as well.
Is Asthma Inherited from Mother or Father?
According to an article from Independent.co.uk, experts in Oxford have discovered that the gene which may be responsible for this medical condition is inherited from the mother. If inherited from the father`s side, children are less prone to experience asthma.
This new evidence explains more or less previous observations according to which children from mothers who experience asthma are more likely to develop this illness than those whose fathers suffered from it.
More recent research has discovered that the risk for allergic reactions in youngster is a lot higher when the mother has such allergies, and not the father. According to these findings, the explanation lies in some sort of a mechanism known also as genomic imprinting which causes some of the genes to switch off before pregnancy. Most of the body`s cells contain 2 copies of the human genes, each one inherited from the mother and father. Usually, both these copies work together; however, sometimes just 1 copy is needed, while the other one might be switched off.
Triggering Factors of Asthma
Asthma might be caused by several different factors, like respiratory infections, NSAIDs, lots of allergens, sinusitis, aspirin, irritants (chemical substances, emotional states, smoking or humidity) or physical exercises. With an increased attention to all these factors, the control of the signs might be improved and pregnant women might require lower therapeutic doses.
Gastroesophageal reflux is also recognized as a cause and around 1/3 of expecting mothers present symptomatic reflux. Initial therapy involves low volume meals and lifting the head 6 cm above the postprandial horizon.
Pay attention at:
- House dust which contains micro-organisms with potential of allergies that is invisible to the naked eye.
- Drugs (aspirin, metoprolol, propranolol, indomethacin, diclofenac, phenylbutazone,)
- Molds, poultry, kitchen beetles, animal secretion products, aquarium fish food.
- Physical effort.
- Cold air.
- Passive or active smoking.
- Chemicals (paints, acetone, dyes, formol).
- Gastroesophageal reflux.
- Viral respiratory infections.
- Atmospheric pollutants (smoke, fog).
- Food additives and dyestuffs.
Is Asthma Dangerous during Pregnancy?
In an expecting mother, untreated or uncontrolled asthma might be associated with respiratory signs at night, intermittent or chronic hypoxemia in the mother, which may lead to hospitalization or visit to the emergency room. Placenta praevia, complications during labor, chronic respiratory failure, preeclampsia, oligohydramnios, hypertension, intubations or even death might occur as well.
These pregnancies are more frequently associated with bleeding experienced by the mother and gravidarum hyperemesis. The frequency is twice as high in asthmatic women than the healthy ones.
There has also been an increase of C-section among uncontrolled patients with a severe form of this condition.
If the illness isn`t treated while pregnant, asthma might be decompensated with acute and chronic asthma, severe on occasion, which may lead to acute respiratory failure, and in time, chronic respiratory failure, with the occurrence of hypoxia (tissues aren`t enough oxygenated), as well as hypoxemia (decreased concentration of oxygen in the blood), placental conditions might appear with changes in the quality and amount of amniotic liquid, and with side effects regarding the fetus. When it comes to the baby, if this disease is left untreated in the mother, it can lead to insufficient brain or organ development, and mental retardation at birth, which sometimes might even become irreversible.
Is It Safe to Take Medications for Asthma during Pregnancy?
Yes, it`s safe to use such drugs while pregnant. Actually, the pneumologist will advise you to use inhaled treatment to try and control your illness during pregnancy.
There are a lot of drugs which are generally used in treating asthma, which are grouped into 2 main categories:
These drugs control inflammation as well as edema in the bronchi. They don`t act right away and as a result they won`t be used when a crisis is concerned. Instead, anti-inflammatory medications will have an effect that will last in time and will also improve as well as prevent the onset of asthma manifestations. Inhaled corticosteroids are the most frequently used anti-inflammatory medications, and beclomethasone is the most commonly released drugs during pregnancy. It hasn`t been proven if these medications would present any risk if provided to a pregnant woman.
It`s advisable that you don`t use Montelukast (Singulair) now, because it`s less known about its safety during pregnancy compared with the studies about inhaled corticosteroids. Still, if your asthma was controlled with this drug, the doctor might advise you to continue taking while pregnant as well. The risk of exacerbation is higher than the potential risk of the medication.
This type of drugs act very fast when you have an exacerbation or asthma crisis, relaxing the airways, and allowing you to breathe more easily. Ventolin is a frequently prescribed bronchodilator to be taken into the crisis. It`s usually seen as being a safe drug during pregnancy.
Talk to a pneumologist about this particular treatment for asthma if you want to conceive or if you have already found out that you are expecting a baby. The drugs that have been most used are commonly recommended during pregnancy, because about these it`s known that they are the safest. Inhalation medications are safer than tablets, because there`s a smaller amount of this drug absorbed into the bloodstream that will reach the baby.
Is It Safe to Use an Inhaler while Pregnant?
Yes, it is safe to use an inhaler during pregnancy. Actually, the doctor who supervises your pregnancy will most likely recommend you one to maintain your condition under control.
Although lots of women who experience this illness give birth to babies that are perfectly healthy, uncontrolled attacks of asthma may prevent the little one from receiving sufficient oxygen, so an inhaler is “kind of” a-must. Uncontrolled asthma attacks may increase the risk of:
- High blood pressure.
- Premature birth.
Can Asthma Just Go Away?
When talking about pregnant women, letting your asthma signs go untreated may pose a high risk to the fetus than any kind of treatment the doctor might prescribe.
Children frequently do not outgrow this disease. When it comes to a child`s asthma, the illness can get better or worse in time and some really young kids with this medical condition might get a lot better as their lungs develop. However, most people experience this illness for their entire lives.