Questions About Asthma Meds During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be wonderful and exciting. But if you have asthma, you may wonder if it's safe for you to continue using your asthma medications without putting your unborn child at risk for birth defects.

Exploring the Risk of Birth Defects

The latest medical guidelines recommend that women should continue taking their asthma medications to control their condition throughout their entire pregnancy. But researchers from the Center for Environmental Health through the New York State Department of Health recently decided to take a close look at the results of a survey of close to 3,000 babies born with various birth defects to identify any links that exist between maternal asthma medication use during pregnancy and any corresponding birth defects.

Findings on Pregnancy and Asthma Medications

Their findings, which were published in Pediatrics, February 2012, revealed some good news. Most of the common birth defects that exist didn't seem to have any connection with maternal use of asthma medications. However, they did uncover a few exceptions. They believe that three very rare birth defects could have some link to certain asthma treatments. These birth defects in question include: the esophagus being closed at the bottom instead of connecting to the stomach, a closed section forming on the anus or rectum, and the abdominal contents protruding into the umbilical cord.

Putting the Research Into Perspective

Before you let these descriptions scare you it's important to know that the risk of asthma medications actually causing your baby to experience any one of these problems is extremely low. Scientists believe that while the medication could be involved in causing these problems, they also point out that uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy can lead to a drop in the mother's oxygen levels and low oxygen can be a possible cause for some of these types of birth disorders. More research is needed to better understand exactly how the problems are caused and why.

What This Means for You

If you're currently pregnant or plan to get pregnant in the future, these findings on asthma and pregnancy can serve as an important reminder for you to take your condition seriously and that you continue taking your medication as your doctor directs.

Keep in mind that even if there is a risk between asthma meds and rare birth defects, the link is very small and will probably be much less significant than the consequences of letting your asthma get out of control.

It's also crucial to understand that if you stop taking your asthma medications now, you may ultimately need to take higher doses later when symptoms get worse, which can put your baby at an increased risk for problems.

If you're concerned about the risk your asthma medication usage can pose on your baby, talk to your doctor and find out how best to manage your asthma throughout the pregnancy.




American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. "Asthma, Allergies and Pregnancy: Tips to Remember." Web. 10 Feb. 2012.,-allergies-and-pregnancy.aspx

Lin S, et al. "Maternal Asthma Medication Use and the Risk of Selected Birth Defects." Pediatrics Vol. 129. No. 2, Feb. 1, 2012: e317-e324. Web. 10 Feb. 2012.