Pregnant women suffering from asthma run a greater risk of giving birth prematurely if they suspend their asthma treatments. According to a Université de Montréal study, published in Respiratory Medicine, the probability of suffering from hypertension during pregnancy also increases for women who interrupt their asthma treatment.
"Many pregnant women cease taking their asthma medication to protect the health of their child," says Faranak Firoozi, a researcher at the Université de Montréal's Department of Pharmacy. "However, they don't know that unchecked asthma can cause greater harm to the child than the medication."
According to Firoozi, there is no correlation between taking asthma medication, such as Pulmicort or Ventolin, and any congenital birth defect. In their study, Firoozi and colleagues debunk the myth that fetal gender has an affect on maternal asthma.
"Contrary to what some researchers have said, there is no difference between male and female hormones and how they impact bronchial sensitivity, which would in turn accentuate asthma symptoms when a woman carries a girl. This is good news," says Firoozi.
Firoozi used data collected by the Régie de l'assurance maladie, the Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux and the Institut de la statistique du Québec, on 13,000 pregnant women who consulted a physician for asthma between 1990 and 2002. The researcher analyzed the medication used by these women and their rate of hospitalization following their visit to the ER.
"Yes, asthma can have an important impact on pregnancy," says Firoozi. "Asthmatic women must be closely followed during pregnancy given the risks they pose to their own health and the health of their child. But the sex of the fetus has nothing to do with the asthmatic condition of pregnant women."
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