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Pregnant Women With Asthma Should Stay on Low Dose of Meds

Group sets guidelines on monitoring for fetal growth restriction, preterm birth

FRIDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- During pregnancy, asthmatic women should continue to use their asthma medication in the lowest dose possible to manage symptoms.

So recommends a new Practice Bulletin just released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

The bulletin says women with moderate or severe asthma should also be monitored throughout pregnancy for fetal growth restriction and signs of possible preterm birth.

During pregnancy, asthma attacks may deprive the fetus of oxygen and may be associated with premature birth, growth restriction and other fetal complications, as well as illness and death in women, the ACOG said.

The new recommendations are based on a review of existing studies and support the position of the U.S. National Asthma Education Prevention Program that "it is safer for pregnant women with asthma to be treated with asthma medications than it is for them to have asthma symptoms and exacerbations."

"Previously, there was limited guidance regarding the management of asthma during pregnancy," Dr. Andrew J. Satin, chairman of the ACOG's Committee on Practice Bulletins-Obstetrics, said in a prepared statement. "With the growing number of asthmatics in the U.S., it became a priority to formalize recommendations for ob-gyns, who will likely see an increasing number of asthmatic patients."

"Research consistently shows that women with well-controlled asthma can have healthy pregnancies with excellent maternal and perinatal outcomes," Dr. Mitchell P. Dombrowski, an ACOG Fellow who contributed to the new Practice Bulletin, said in a prepared statement. "The ultimate goal of controlling asthma during pregnancy is to ensure that the fetus continues to get adequate oxygen by preventing asthma attacks."

The bulletin is published in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

More information

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more about asthma and pregnancy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, news release, Jan. 31, 2008

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