Photo © Courtesy of the Lung Health Foundation
Healthy breathing is vital to a healthy pregnancy. That’s the message the Lung Health Foundation wants to convey to expectant parents living with asthma.
During pregnancy, symptoms get worse for about one-third of asthma patients, leaving them vulnerable to flare-ups and attacks that can affect the health of mother and baby. There’s no way to predict how your body will respond, so it’s best to aim for proper asthma control as soon as possible.
Poorly controlled asthma during pregnancy has been connected with an increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia—high blood pressure that can harm the mother’s organs and keep the baby from getting enough blood and oxygen. Poorly controlled maternal asthma can also result in lower birth weight. Some studies suggest that babies born at lower weights are more likely to develop asthma themselves.
“Our intent isn’t to frighten pregnant Canadians who are living with asthma,” says George Habib, Lung Health Foundation President and CEO. “The news is overwhelmingly positive. With good asthma control, adverse outcomes can be avoidable. And, with the right tools, good asthma control is in reach for all Canadians, through all of life’s stages.”
A key component of maintaining good asthma control is using an Asthma Action Plan before, during and after pregnancy. An Asthma Action Plan is a personalized guide that details what medicine the patient needs to take, when to take them and how to adjust them if symptoms get out of control.
Having an Asthma Action Plan in place can improve quality of life and give patients better control over their asthma.
According to the Lung Health Foundation, only 22 percent of the approximately three million Canadians with asthma have an Asthma Action Plan in place. Fewer than half take their medications as prescribed.
“Our goal is to ensure that no one loses a loved one to asthma. We believe that reaching families during this key season of life could lead to better lifelong asthma control for parents and kids alike,” adds Habib.
The Lung Health Foundation’s advice doesn’t stop there. Pregnant people can boost their breathing through other simple interventions on the Foundation’s Asthma-Safe Pregnancy Checklist, including vaccination against infectious respiratory disease. Both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines are considered safe during pregnancy. Getting the vaccines during pregnancy can also transfer protection to the baby.
The Lung Health Foundation urges Canadians living with asthma who are pregnant, planning to be, or postpartum, to download an Asthma Action Plan and explore the full Asthma-Safe Pregnancy Checklist. After all, pregnant people are breathing for two (at least!)
To download an Asthma Action Plan and an Asthma-Safe Pregnancy Checklist, visit lunghealth.ca/pregnancy
Asthma symptoms get worse during pregnancy for about a third of people. There’s no way to predict how your body will respond so it’s best to aim for good asthma control as soon as possible.