'Don't stop asthma meds in pregnancy'

Pregnant women who have asthma run a greater risk of giving birth prematurely if they stop taking their asthma medication, the results of a new study indicate.

According to researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada, ‘many pregnant women cease taking their asthma medication to protect the health of their child. However, they don't know that unchecked asthma can cause greater harm to the child than the medication’.

The researchers also pointed out that there is no link between taking asthma medication, such as Ventolin, and any congenital birth defect.

The study involved 13,000 pregnant women who consulted a doctor about asthma between 1990 and 2002. The Canadian team analysed the medication used by these women and their rate of admission to hospital following visits to A&E.

It found that those who suspended their asthma treatment during pregnancy were more likely to give birth prematurely. The probability of suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) during pregnancy also increased among those who stopped taking their medication.

The researchers also debunked the myth that the baby’s gender has an effect on maternal asthma.

"Contrary to what some researchers have said, there is no difference between male and female hormones and how they impact bronchial sensitivity, which would in turn accentuate asthma symptoms when a woman carries a girl. This is good news," explained researcher, Faranak Firoozi.

The team acknowledged that asthma can have an important impact on pregnancy and that asthmatic women must be closely monitored during pregnancy, ‘but the sex of the foetus has nothing to do with the asthmatic condition of pregnant women’, they added.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Respiratory Medicine.

For more information on asthma, see…http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/asthma/index.html
For more information on pregnancy, see…http://www.mum.ie

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