Asthma: Interrelationships with Pregnancy

  • Vanessa E. MurphyEmail author
  • Megan E. Jensen
  • Linda E. Campbell
  • Peter G. Gibson


Asthma affects pregnancy, and pregnancy affects asthma. These interrelationships affect the health of both mother and baby and have influences over the future health of the offspring.

Asthma is the most common chronic medical condition to impact on pregnancy, with global prevalence increasing. Pregnancy has been long understood to be associated with variable changes in asthma symptoms, which for some results in an improvement and others a deterioration. Ventilatory function is not thought to change with pregnancy, although large longitudinal studies are lacking. Exacerbations are common in pregnancy, requiring medical intervention in at least one third of pregnant women with asthma. Women with asthma also have a high prevalence of co-morbidities and behavioural issues which may impact their disease and increase the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes. These include rhinitis, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, tobacco smoking, mental health concerns, obesity, poor nutrition and excess gestational weight gain. Infertility has recently been shown to be increased amongst women with asthma, and women with asthma are at increased risk of a range of adverse perinatal outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, neonatal death and neonatal intensive care admission at birth. The relationship between maternal asthma and offspring outcomes doesn’t finish at birth, however, with evidence for associations between poorly controlled asthma and asthma in childhood, and some studies suggesting a link between maternal asthma and poor cognitive and behavioural outcomes in childhood. The importance of good asthma management in pregnancy cannot be overstated, given the unpredictable changes in asthma during pregnancy, the association with poor outcomes for the baby, both at birth and into early life, and the complex relationships with co-morbidities which affect disease and pregnancy outcomes.


Asthma Asthma control Exacerbation Perinatal outcomes Infertility Exhaled nitric oxide 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vanessa E. Murphy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Megan E. Jensen
    • 1
  • Linda E. Campbell
    • 1
  • Peter G. Gibson
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Priority Research Centre Grow Up WellUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  2. 2.Priority Research Centre for Healthy LungsUniversity of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research InstituteNewcastleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Respiratory and Sleep MedicineJohn Hunter HospitalNewcastleAustralia

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