Asthma exacerbations during pregnancy linked to birth complications

Research has suggested that offspring of women who had asthma exacerbations were 23% more likely to develop asthma and 12% more likely to experience pneumonia before the age of five years.

Pregnant lady holding abdomen

Women with asthma who experience exacerbations during pregnancy are more likely to have birth complications than women with well-controlled asthma, study results published in the European Respiratory Journal has suggested (26 November 2019)[1]

The team looked at data from Ontario on 103,424 singleton pregnancies in women with asthma.

They found that, compared with women who did not have exacerbations during pregnancy, women who did had a 30% (odds ratio [OR] 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12–1.51) greater likelihood of pre-eclampsia and a 17% (OR 1.17; 95% CI 1.02–1.33) greater likelihood of pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Furthermore, their babies were more likely to be pre-term and have congenital malformations, the researchers found. Offspring of women who had asthma exacerbations were also 23% (OR 1.23; 95% CI 1.13–1.33) more likely to develop asthma and 12% (OR 1.12; 95% CI 1.03–1.22) more likely to experience pneumonia before the age of five years.

Some women may intentionally reduce or stop taking asthma medication out of safety concerns, the authors explained.

“Targeting women with asthma during pregnancy and ensuring appropriate asthma management and postpartum follow-up may help to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, adverse perinatal outcomes and early childhood respiratory disorders,” the reseachers concluded.


[1] Abdullah K, Zhu J, Gershon A et alEur Respir J 2019; In press. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01335-2019

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, January 2020;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207505