Are you a pregnant woman who suffers from asthma? New guidelines recommend that you keep the condition in check with medication. While doctors have always been concerned about the effects of medicine on an unborn child, leaving an asthma condition uncontrolled can mean mother and baby don’t get adequate oxygen. And that can lead to complications such as pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth, and low birth weight, says Virginia Taggart, health sciences administrator at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Pregnancy can actually mask asthma symptoms, so women should be vigilant. “They need to monitor their asthma carefully so that they act quickly if they do feel symptoms. It can sneak up on you,” Taggart says. “Work with your doctor to understand the signs that your asthma is getting worse.”
The new guidelines issued by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program urge OB/GYNs to get involved in monitoring patients’ asthma at every visit. Pregnant women should also work with care providers to identify and limit exposure to their asthma triggers, which could include pet dander, dust mites or mold.
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Pregnant women may need to be more careful when using household cleaners. British researchers are warning that pregnant women who use large amounts of household cleaners have children more than twice as likely to develop persistent wheezing – often a precursor to asthma.
Researchers conducting a study of 7,019 children, published in the January 2005 edition of Thorax, did not measure how much chemical exposure is safe for pregnant women. But they did find that the more chemicals used, the more likely the child would wheeze. They urged women to “be sensible” with cleaning products, and follow directions regarding ventilation carefully.
Or consider using a gentler alternative, such as scrubbing your sink with baking soda, washing windows with vinegar and water or using environmentally friendly cleaning products.
– Christina Elston