Family Physician, 2001;11:20-3.


Asthma is a chronic reversible respiratory problem commonly seen by Family Physicians. Pregnancy can produce physiological and physical changes that can affect the severity of asthma and its management. Conversely poorly controlled asthmatic attacks can result in adverse obstetric outcome: prematurity, low birth weight babies, foetal hypoxia and increased maternal and foetal morbidity and mortality. It is important that Family Physicians should be able to manage competently and provide appropriate counseling for women with asthma in pregnancy, labour and lactation. Assessment of asthma control using a peak flow meter is recommended. The use of the usual inhaled and oral corticosteroids, beta 2 agonists, cromones and anticholinergics are generally safe in pregnancy, labour and lactation. But methylxanthines should be used with caution. Women should be advised that asthma medication would not adversely affect their unborn babies and the birth outcome of well-controlled asthmatic women approaches that of the normal population but uncontrolled asthma would be detrimental to the health of mother and child.