Asthmatic Moms More Likely to Have Underweight Babies – Study

Moms-to-be, take note! If you have asthma, then chances are higher you’re going to give birth to underweight babies. This is the conclusion of a new study carried out by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

For those who didn’t know already, asthma is a common respiratory disease caused by chronic inflammation in the airways of the lungs with symptoms of coughing and breathlessness. Asthma often increases women’s risk of certain complications during pregnancy and at the time of childbirth. Asthmatic women suffer more often from preeclampsia (PE) and it increases their chance of giving birth to underweight babies, new research reveals.

Lead author Dr Gustaf Rejnö, who is an obstetrician and doctoral student at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, said: “Asthma causes these complications.This means that well-controlled asthma during pregnancy could reduce the relative incidence of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.”

In order to examine the link between asthma in pregnant women and their pregnancy outcomes, the Swedish researchers combed through Swedish birth records, as well as data from the prescribed drug and patient registers.

They analysed 1,075,153 births to more than 700,000 women between 2001 and 2013, and found that some 10.1 percent of the babies were born to a mother who had asthma.

The findings reveal suffering from asthma puts women at a significantly high risk of having pre-eclampsia, a cesarean section, instrumental deliveries, underweight babies and premature deliveries, which could be certainly blamed for the increased risk of low birth weight.

Preeclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and significant amount of protein in urine of a pregnant woman. This potentially dangerous pregnancy complication usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy and may cause damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. The condition can lead to serious, even life-threatening, complications for both mother and baby.

Dr Rejnö said: “Four per cent of all pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia. We found that the risk of pre-eclampsia is 17 percent higher in women with asthma compared to women without asthma.

“It seems to be the asthma per se that causes these complication.”

The researchers, however, said a well-controlled asthma during pregnancy could reduce the incidence of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. “In an earlier study, we saw that this was indeed the case,” the doctor affirmed.

The findings were published in this month’s issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.