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Pregnancy and Asthma: Communicating With Your Doctor

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Summary & Participants

Managing asthma in pregnancy requires special expertise. Listen to expert advice on how a woman should work with her doctors to make sure her asthma hurts neither herself nor her unborn child.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

ANNOUNCER: Doctors say a pregnant woman with asthma may hurt herself and her unborn child if her disease goes untreated.

EMILY DIMANGO, MD: Women with asthma who become pregnant should not take matters into their own hands, even if they think that their asthma is well-controlled. They really need to see a doctor about it.

ALLAN STILLERMAN, MD: I would recommend to pregnant women that they seek the best control of their asthma while pregnant, before they're pregnant and after they're pregnant. They can best accomplish this by seeking the supervisory care of both an allergist or pulmonologist in addition to their obstetrician and gynecologist to seek a comprehensive approach to the management of their asthma and their pregnancy.

ANNOUNCER: When pregnant women under treat their asthma or do not treat it at all it's often because they don't realize the full impact of their disease.

EMILY DIMANGO, MD: People with asthma tend to underestimate the severity of their disease. Not because they're denying their disease, but they tend to become adjusted to it or acclimated to it. So the fact that they can't walk up a flight of stairs becomes normal for them, when in fact with use of good controller medications, that's not necessary. So being short of breath, waking up at night from asthma is not normal. These symptoms can be controlled and can be eliminated with proper use of asthma medication, both during pregnancy and just during everyday life as well.

ANNOUNCER: Sometimes, women avoid treatment for asthma for fear that drugs may harm their unborn child. But doctors say there's little reason to worry, whether treatment is for occasional flare-ups, or more persistent asthma.

RUSSELL SETTIPANE, MD: The medications that we use for asthma, in general, are very, very safe and their benefits greatly outweigh the risks in terms of the pregnancy.

ANNOUNCER: The severity of a woman's asthma during pregnancy is hard to predict.

MICHAEL SCHATZ, MD: Not only may asthma affect pregnancy, but pregnancy appears able to affect the course of asthma as well. The data in the literature would suggest that about a third of women get worse during pregnancy their asthma worsens about a third of women improve and about a third of women stay the same.

ANNOUNCER: A woman's experience during a previous pregnancy offers some guidance about the likely course of her asthma.

ALLAN STILLERMAN, MD: The main predictive factor which is going to determine what impact the pregnancy has on a female's asthma is the pattern that that patient experienced from a former pregnancy. That tends to be consistent.

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