Asthma, You and Your Baby

When you are pregnant it is important that you consider any lifestyle changes that need to be made, especially if you have asthma.

Over two million people in Australia have been diagnosed with asthma – and this figure is doubling every fifteen years. It is one of the most common reasons why children are admitted to hospital. 397 Australian’s died in 2002 due to this condition. Asthma cannot be cured at this stage, but it can be managed and you can try to prevent your baby from developing asthma.

How Asthma Affects Pregnancy

  • Control is the key to a successful pregnancy if you have asthma – always continue taking your prescribed asthma medication.
  • There is no evidence that taking your prescribed asthma medication will cause any defects or increase the risk of any complications during pregnancy.
  • Inhaled medication certainly does not affect the baby because it stays in your lungs rather than getting into your bloodstream.
  • Uncontrolled asthma can lead to attacks, which reduces oxygen supplied to your baby. This can affect growth, development and survival.

What to Expect

  • Your doctor is likely to monitor your lung function during pregnancy.
  • Expect your peak expiratory air flows to decrease – especially in later stages as the uterus presses up against the diaphragm.
  • Your increased weight, growing baby and higher blood volume could also leave you feeling out of breath.
  • Previous studies have shown that asthma symptoms usually improve during the third trimester.
  • Studies have also shown that asthma attacks during labour are very rare.

Affect on Your Lifestyle

When you are pregnant it is important that you consider any lifestyle changes that need to be made, especially if you have asthma. Asthma is a hereditary condition and babies are more likely to inherit this from their mother, rather than father. You may need to re-think the following lifestyle choices:

Smoking: Smoking while pregnant can increase the risk of having a premature labour, low birth-weight or even a stillbirth. It is also important to stay away from smokers to avoid second-hand smoke – a baby’s breathing capacity is affected by it even in the womb.

Diet: Studies have shown that babies were less likely to develop asthma if their mother’s had a high intake of Vitamin E (found in nuts, cereals and vegetables) and antioxidants (citrus fruits, olive oil and soya beans) during pregnancy.

Exercise: Low-impact aerobic exercise is great for pregnant women with asthma – it will expand your lungs and help drain fluids from the sinuses and chest. Just remember your limitations to prevent triggering an attack.

Asthma and Your Baby

Genetics and environment are the main causes of asthma development. Try these tips to help reduce the chances of your child developing asthma.

Smoke: Always avoid smoking and smoky environments. Children are one and a half times more likely to develop asthma if their parent’s are smokers.

Breast-feed Your Baby: Breast-feeding babies is a good way to increase their immune system as breast-milk is full of nutrients.

Pets: It is best to avoid close contact with animals in your baby’s early stages as they could trigger allergies.

Feed Non-Allergen Foods: It is not recommended you feed your baby foods containing eggs, nuts, wheat or cows milk as these can cause babies to wheeze. If you suffer from any allergies your child is at a higher risk of developing their own if exposed to trigger substances in the first three to six months of their lives.

Symptoms of Asthma

Wheezing is the most obvious symptom of asthma in babies however it is very common in infants, especially under two years of age. Often wheezing passes as the child’s respiratory system develops.

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