Pregnancy and birth outcomes in families with asthma

J Asthma. 2003 Apr;40(2):181-7. doi: 10.1081/jas-120017989.


Studies of maternal asthma in pregnancy have shown an increased risk of adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes such as preeclampsia, hypertension, cesarean delivery, prematurity, low birth weight, and perinatal/neonatal mortality. However, results are not consistent between studies. We studied the association between maternal asthma and various adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes and explored whether there is any evidence that pregnancy exacerbates maternal asthma. The data were collected as part of the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study. Pregnant women with asthma or women whose partners or other children had current symptoms of asthma were recruited at six Sydney hospitals. All women recruited were post 36 weeks gestation and were living within 30 km of the study recruitment center. Information about family history of asthma was collected using a questionnaire at 36 weeks gestation and subsequent information about antenatal and perinatal events was obtained from hospital records. Data from 611 pregnant women were available for analysis, 340 of whom had asthma. Hypertension was significantly more common in asthmatics than in nonasthmatics [OR = 2.16 (1.02-4.6), p < 0.043]. The prevalence of gestational diabetes, labor complications, delivery complications, and adverse neonatal outcomes did not differ significantly between the groups. We also found that the course of maternal asthma usually remains unchanged during pregnancy, but that more severe asthma is likely to get worse. We have confirmed previous observations that women with asthma are at increased risk of hypertension in pregnancy, which is consistent with studies that show that pregnant asthmatic women have a slightly increased risk of preeclampsia. However, we did not find evidence of an increased risk of adverse perinatal outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apgar Score
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Birth Weight
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors