Strategies towards improving pharmacological management of asthma during pregnancy

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Abstract

Maternal asthma represents a significant burden to individuals and the healthcare system, affecting 1 in 10 pregnancies worldwide. Approximately 50% of asthmatic women experience a deterioration of asthma control at some stage during pregnancy, with a number requiring use of oral corticosteroids for the management of acute exacerbations. The presence of maternal asthma and exacerbations during pregnancy is a noted risk factor for a range of adverse perinatal outcomes including preterm birth, small-for-gestational age, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes. These negative impacts highlight the need for evidence-based approaches for improving asthma management during pregnancy and subsequent perinatal outcomes. Despite this, relatively small progress has been made in enhancing the management of maternal asthma in the clinical setting. A major challenge in improving outcomes of asthmatic pregnancies is that there is no single simplified approach for improving outcomes, but rather the requirement to consider the dynamic relationship between a myriad of interrelated factors that ultimately determine an individual's ability to maintain adequate asthma control. Understanding how these factors are impacted by pregnancy and how they can be addressed through various interventions is therefore important in optimising health outcomes. This review summarises key factors involved in influencing outcomes associated with maternal asthma. This includes an overview of the use of asthma medications in pregnancy, while also considering the impacts of interrelated aspects such as medication adherence, health-seeking behaviours, biological and lifestyle factors, co-morbidities, and asthma self-management strategies on asthma control. Addressing such factors through multidisciplinary approaches towards treatment have potential to improve the health of mothers and their offspring. Optimising asthma control should be a high priority within the antenatal setting, with women advised about the importance of good asthma control, managing asthma actively throughout pregnancy by utilising their asthma medications, and managing exacerbations in a timely and effective manner.

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