‘Asthma during pregnancy can cause hypertension in mothers, birth defects in babies’

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in pregnancy, affecting up to 13 per cent of them according to the authors of a study. One in three pregnant women with asthma have exacerbation during pregnancy.

Expectant mothers who have asthma attacks during pregnancy are more at risk of developing complications.

A Canadian study examined data on pregnancies among more than 58,000 women with asthma who had babies in Ontario, from 2003 to 2012.

The study found that women who had asthma attacks during pregnancy were 17 per cent more likely to have pregnancy-induced hypertension and 30 per cent more likely to have preeclampsia.

Even babies of these mothers were affected. Women who had asthma attacks were found to be 14 per cent more likely to have low-birth weight or preterm babies and 21 per cent more likely to have infants with birth defects. The researchers followed the mothers through their pregnancies and their babies for up to five years.

Teresa To, senior study author from Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, was quoted as saying that many pregnant women are known to decrease or stop taking asthma medication thinking it might be harmful to unborn babies.

While the study does not delve much into how asthma attacks during pregnancy cause complications, it was suggested that this might happen because flare-ups reduce oxygen supplies for both women and their children.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in pregnancy, affecting up to 13 per cent of them according to the authors. One in three pregnant women with asthma have exacerbation during pregnancy.

The study also found that asthma attacks were more likely in pregnant women who were older, smoked or had limited income or insecure housing.

Preeclampsia, on the other hand, developed in 5.3 per cent pregnancies among women who had asthma attacks as compared to 3.8 per cent of pregnancies among other women.

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About seven per cent of pregnancies involving asthma attacks led to pregnancy-induced hypertension compared to 5.4 per cent of other pregnancies.

Low birth weights occurred in 6.8 per cent of pregnancies with asthma attacks, compared with 5.3 per cent of other pregnancies, the study found. Preterm births occurred in 8.2 per cent of pregnancies involving asthma attacks compared to 6.7 per cent of other pregnancies. And 6.2 per cent of babies had birth defects in pregnancies involving asthma attacks while it affected about five per cent of those born to mothers who didn’t have asthma attacks during pregnancy.

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