What is safe enough - asthma in pregnancy - a review of current literature and recommendations

Review - Open Access
Slavica LaborAlba Maria Dalbello TirDavor PlavecIva JuricMihovil RoglicJustinija Pavkov Vukelic and Marina Labor Email authorView ORCID ID profile



Although asthma is one of the most serious diseases causing complications during pregnancy, half of the women discontinue therapy thus diminishing the control of the disease, mostly due to the inadequate education and fear of adverse events. Sadly, this is sometimes encouraged by insufficiently educated physicians. Since the incidence and the prevalence of asthma is increasing, it is important to arouse the importance of proper asthma therapy during pregnancy. Inadequate therapy, as well as interrupting or discontinuing therapy, may result in adverse perinatal outcomes for both mother and child.

Main body

The main goal of asthma control during pregnancy is control of symptoms and prevention of exacerbations, same as in every asthmatic, but even more important. Maintaining optimal lung function, as well as regular daily activities, ensures maintenance of optimal fetal oxygenation. The therapy should be adapted depending on the frequency and severity of daily and nocturnal symptoms, demand for reliever therapy, by the limitations in everyday activities and the frequency of emergency asthma-related hospitalizations. Pre-conceptual education and therapy are very important and should be supported by an asthma action plan adjusted for the period of pregnancy. It is very important to note that most of the drugs used before pregnancy can be safely continued during pregnancy. Pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapy should be used in parallel. Pregnant women should be informed about the nature of the disease, therapy used during pregnancy, possible complications, avoidance of triggers, proper administration of therapy and, most important, why should the therapy be continued throughout the pregnancy on individual basis. Although drug treatment should be based on using drugs with less harm risk, if control of severe symptoms is needed to be achieved in order to protect both mother and child, any anti-asthmatic drug would have the beneficial benefit/harm ratio.


There is no solid evidence that asthma treatment during pregnancy causes adverse outcomes for the mother and child but for many, especially new drugs, there is not enough data gathered. On the other hand, harmfulness of uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy is well documented so every effort should be put on preserving good control of asthma during pregnancy.

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Editor: Juan C. Ivancevich, MD

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