Asthma Outcomes and Management During Pregnancy

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Abstract

Asthma during pregnancy poses a common, increasingly prevalent threat to the health of women and their children. The present article reviews recent insights gained from the epidemiology of asthma during pregnancy, demonstrating the many short- and long-term risks to mother and fetus incurred by poorly controlled maternal asthma. We further discuss emerging evidence that active management of asthma during pregnancy can positively influence and perhaps completely mitigate these poor outcomes. Recent high-quality trials examining best methods for asthma treatment are reviewed and synthesized to offer an evidence-based pathway for comprehensive treatment of asthma in the outpatient setting. Safe and effective medications, as well as nonpharmacologic interventions, for asthma during pregnancy are discussed, and treatment options for related conditions of pregnancy, including depression, rhinitis, and gastroesophageal reflux, are presented. Throughout, we emphasize that an effective treatment strategy relies on a detailed patient evaluation, patient education, objective measurement of asthma control, and frequent and supportive follow-up. The cardiovascular and respiratory physiology of pregnancy is reviewed, as well as its implications for the management of patients with asthma, including patients requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation. For the situation when outpatient asthma management has failed, an approach to the critically ill pregnant patient with status asthmaticus is detailed. Multidisciplinary teams that include pulmonary specialists, obstetricians, primary care providers, nurses, pharmacists, and asthma educators improve the care of pregnant women with asthma.

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