What You Should Know About Asthma in Pregnancy

Answering Questions About Asthma and Allergy Medicine During Pregnancy

Asthma and Pregnancy
Asthma and pregnancy CAN go together, with the right approach. Digital Images / Getty Images

Asthma in pregnancy is scary, especially if this is your first baby. When you are pregnant moms to be worry about many things like:

  • If rolling on your tummy will harm your baby
  • Eating foods that may harm your baby
  • Miscarriages and birth defects
  • Prematurity
  • Losing baby weight
  • Water breaking in public
  • Incontinence
  • Not being a good parent

Asthma brings a number of these concerns to the forefront such as “Is it safe to use an inhaler while pregnant?,” “Will my asthma itself be detrimental to my pregnancy,” and “Am I more likely to have poor asthma control as a result of being pregnant?”

Asthma and Pregnancy: What Happens To Asthma Control In Pregnancy?

Asthma and pregnancy occur together in up to 8 percent of pregnant women and can lead to classic symptoms of asthma such as:

Asthma in pregnancy has variable effects. One-third of mothers experiencing asthma and pregnancy improve their control, a third shows no change, and a third worsen.

Surprisingly asthma seems to be less severe in very late pregnancy and worse between 29–36 weeks in several studies. When asthma in pregnancy improved, Improvements generally occurred gradually over the course of pregnancy. Finally, asthma control tended to be similar with each pregnancy rather than a first pregnancy having poor control followed by a second pregnancy with better control.

Asthma attacks occur in up to a third of pregnancies and seem to be more common during the second and early third trimester when the occur.

Asthma treatment in pregnancy can be a little more challenging because some symptoms such as shortness of breath are more common in pregnancy and as pregnancy progresses.

Asthma In Pregnancy: What Are The Effects?

Poorly controlled asthma may lead to a number of adverse pregnancy outcomes when pregnant with asthma. Asthma during pregnancy has been associated with:

  • Preterm delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Miscarriage
  • Bleeding both before and after delivery
  • Depression
  • Preeclampsia or pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Blood clots or pulmonary embolism
  • Congenital malformations

Women with greater asthma severity seemed to be at greater risk of complications. A number of hypotheses exist including low oxygen levels or poor control as measured by FEV1 or other measures.

Asthma and Pregnancy: Is It Safe To Use An Inhaler While Pregnant?

When asthma and pregnancy coexist, you are going to need treatment. However, all medications have side effects and you need to consider any risks of asthma medication to your baby will balancing that against the impact of poor control previously mentioned.

Can You Take Allergy Medicine While Pregnant

Allergies are one of the most common asthma triggers so not getting your allergies under control can lead to poor asthma control. Talk with your doctor because not all allergy medications can be used in pregnancy and some use may vary by trimester. However, chlorpheniramine and diphenhydramine have been safely used in pregnancy for many years.

What Is Your Biggest Asthma Problem?

We want to help you get control of your asthma. I want to hear about your biggest asthma problem so that we can try to help you develop a solution or better understand how to help. You are probably not the only one with the problem. Take a few minutes describing your problem so we can develop a solution together.


  1. Schatz M, Harden K, Forsythe A, Chilingar L, Hoffman C, Sperling W, Zeiger RS. The course of asthma during pregnancy, postpartum, and with successive pregnancies: a prospective analysis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1988;81(3):509. Accessed on September 7, 2015.
  2. Murphy VE, Gibson P, Talbot PI, Clifton VL. Severe asthma exacerbations during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(5 Pt 1):1046. Accessed on September 7, 2015.
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