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Asthma Meds Likely Safe During Pregnancy: Study
Date:1/20/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A new study found no statistically significant link between asthma medication use during pregnancy and common birth defects.

However, the study did find a positive association between some rare birth defects and mothers with asthma, and potentially with their medication use. But, the researchers couldn't tease out whether the problem was a loss of oxygen from less than well-controlled asthma or an effect of medications.

"Worsening asthma is a risk to the mom and the fetus. Hypoxia (a lack of oxygen) we know is a problem for a developing fetus. And, the potential risk they found here is very small. Even if it turns out to be a true increase, the risk is so small. This study raises more questions than it answers," said Dr. Natalie Meirowitz, chief of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

What's most important, she said, is that expectant mothers with asthma don't just stop their medications. "That's really a problem, and then they end up needing more medication," she said.

Findings from the study were published online Jan. 16, ahead of February print publication in Pediatrics.

Between 4 percent and 12 percent of expectant mothers have asthma, according to background information in the article. Current guidelines recommend that women keep taking their asthma medications during pregnancy.

There are two main types of asthma medications: bronchodilators (also known as rescue medication) and anti-inflammatories, which include inhaled and oral steroids, as well as several other medications. Anti-inflammatory medications are generally used long term to help control asthma symptoms.

For the study, the researchers compared nearly 2,900 infants born with birth defects to more than 6,700 babies born with no birth defects. Mothers of these infants were aske
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