Acute asthma in pregnancy

Crit Care Med. 2005 Oct;33(10 Suppl):S319-24. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000182789.14710.a1.


Objectives: To provide an overview on the interrelationship between asthma and pregnancy, focusing on management of pregnant women presenting with an acute severe exacerbation.

Design: A review of the current English-language published clinical trials was performed based on MEDLINE search using the Medical Subject Headings pregnancy and asthma. Current reviews on the topic and practice guidelines were also reviewed.

Results: Asthma is the most common medical condition to complicate pregnancy, and episodes of acute asthma requiring emergency department visits or hospitalization have been reported in 9-11% of pregnant women managed by asthma specialists. Pregnancy can affect the course of asthma, and the risk of asthma exacerbations requiring intervention in pregnant women is higher than in nonpregnant women. Similarly, asthma can affect pregnancy outcomes. Maternal inflammatory pathways may contribute to the poor pregnancy outcomes, especially in women with uncontrolled asthma. Although data on the effects of maternal asthma on pregnancy have been conflicting, mainly because many published studies have not corrected for asthma severity, it has generally been observed that poorly managed asthma during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and complications such as preeclampsia. Optimal therapy of asthma has been shown to contribute to improved maternal and fetal outcomes.

Conclusions: Asthma can complicate the course of pregnancy, and pregnancy can worsen asthma control in some women. Optimal management of asthma during pregnancy is key in ensuring the safety of the mother and the fetus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents