According to a new study from the Netherlands reported by Reuters Health, more than one-third of pregnant women on asthma medications stop taking them during the first few months of pregnancy. These findings are alarming because asthma, when untreated and uncontrolled, can have negative affects on a developing fetus. Last year, we provided a blog post discussing the importance of keeping asthma controlled during pregnancy:
"It is important for pregnant women to remember that they are their babies'only source of oxygen. If a mom's asthma is not controlled, both she and her baby are getting less oxygen. Although babies do not take their first breath until they are born, in utero they receive all their oxygen from the placenta (the blood connection between mom and baby). ...untreated asthma is considered to be riskier than asthma controlled with medications in pregnancy."
Regarding the safety of asthma medication, Reuters reports:
"Both the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) and the U.S. National Asthma Education and Prevention Program recommend that women continue taking asthma medications throughout pregnancy, because the risks of exacerbated asthma are greater than the risks of the medication."
Further, GINA advises "there is not much evidence showing that asthma medications are harmful to the fetus." In the article on our blog, OTIS teratogen information specialist Nadia Mohamedi talks about the low risks from certain asthma medications:
"The majority of women can control their asthma by taking an inhaled medication like albuterol or an inhaled corticosteroid. Inhaled medications act directly on the air passageways to decrease inflammation and open them up for breath. Because inhaled medications are not meant to be absorbed and distributed throughout the body like a pill you swallow is, very little of inhaled medications are absorbed into your blood and able to go to your developing baby. Thus, inhaled medications are usually considered to be of a low risk to the baby."