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New treatment guidelines for pregnant women with asthma

d chair of the NAEPP multidisciplinary expert panel that developed the guidelines. "There are many ways we can help pregnant women control their asthma, and it is imperative that providers and their patients work together to do so."

Asthma affects over 20 million Americans and is one of the most common potentially serious medical conditions to complicate pregnancy. Maternal asthma is associated with increased risk of infant death, preeclampsia (a serious condition marked by high blood pressure, which can cause seizures in the mother or fetus), premature birth, and low-birth weight. These risks are linked to asthma severity more severe asthma increases risk, while better controlled asthma is tied to decreased risks.

Asthma worsens in approximately 30 percent of women who have mild asthma at the beginning of their pregnancy, according to a recent study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network and cofunded by NHLBI. The study also found that, conversely, asthma improved in 23 percent of the women who initially had moderate or severe asthma.

"We cannot predict who will worsen during pregnancy, so the new guidelines recommend that pregnant patients with persistent asthma have their asthma checked at least monthly by a healthcare provider," explained Mitchell Dombrowski, M.D., chief of obstetrics and gynecology for St. John Hospital in Detroit, and a member of the NAEPP expert panel. "Clinicians who provide obstetric care should be part of the patient's asthma management team, working with the patient and her asthma care provider to adjust her medications if needed to keep her asthma under control and to lower the risk of complications from asthma for her and her baby."

Key recommendations from the guidelines regarding medications include:

  • Albuterol, a short-acting inhaled beta2-agonist, should be used as a quick-relief medication to treat asthma symptoms. P
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Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov
301-496-4236
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
11-Jan-2005


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