Background: Asthma is a common condition during pregnancy.
Objective: We sought to determine the effect of asthma on the rates of adverse pregnancy and fetal outcomes.
Methods: We identified pregnancies among black and white women age 15 to 44 with singleton gestations enrolled in the Tennessee Medicaid program over a period of 9 consecutive years, from 1995to 2003, and used claims data to determine the relationship of maternal asthma and asthma exacerbations on pregnancy and infant outcomes.
Results: Among the 140,299 pregnancies, 6.5% were in women with asthma. Among women with asthma, 23% had a hospital or emergency department visit (exacerbated asthma); 40% of black and 23% of white women received hospital or emergency department care for asthma during pregnancy. After controlling for race and other covariates, birth weights among infants of women with asthma were, on average, 38 g lower, and among infants of women with exacerbated asthma they were, on average, 56 g lower. There were moderate, dose-dependent relationships between asthma alone and exacerbated asthma with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, membrane-related disorders, preterm labor, antepartum hemorrhage, and cesarean delivery. Maternal asthma was not associated with preterm birth or birth defects.
Conclusion: Asthma is a risk factor for several common adverse outcomes of pregnancy, and poorly controlled asthma during pregnancy increases these risks.
Clinical implications: It is possible that both maternal and infant outcomes could be improved in this population with appropriate asthma care, especially among black women.