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.