Miles Weinberger, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonary
Asthma need not complicate pregnancy, and pregnancy does not usually influence the course of asthma. There are, however, several relevant questions.
- Is asthma a risk to the unborn child?
- Asthma that is sufficient to cause decreased ability of the lungs to provide the body with oxygen can cause a risk to the unborn child. That risk is most grave if the asthma is active and not adequately managed during labor and delivery. When asthma is well managed and satisfactorily controlled, there is no risk to the unborn child.
- Does any of the treatment for asthma cause a risk to the unborn child?
- As with many medications, there is not sufficient information to provide absolute assurance that there is complete absence of risk. Nonetheless, most medications used for asthma have had extensive use, and no harm to the unborn child has been demonstrated from any appropriately used antiasthmatic medications. If used in a manner that is safe for the mother, no apparent harm occurs to the baby with currently available antiasthmatic medications. As a precaution, however, newly marketed antiasthmatic medications should probably be avoided during pregnancy until there have been several years of experience.
- Will the medications for asthma be a problem with breastfeeding?
- As with many medications, some of the antiasthmatic medications may appear in small quantities in the breast milk. If used in dosages that are safe for the mother, the dose received by the infant is unlikely to be of any importance.
- Will the baby develop asthma?
- The predisposition to have asthma is inherited. The child of an asthmatic mother (or father) is therefore more likely to have asthma than the child of someone without asthma in the family. However, most children of an asthmatic mother will not have asthma. Moreover, asthma, even when present in the child, is more commonly mild than severe, even if the mother's asthma was severe. Since even severe asthma is generally controllable with acceptably safe medication, concern about the baby developing asthma should not be a deterrent to having children.