Women with asthma: keep up your treatment during pregnancy

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Modern pregnancy may seem an exercise in memory at times—remembering which foods to avoid (soft cheese, swordfish, cold cuts, etc.), how much caffeine you can consume (not much), and of course, how often you need to take all of those prenatal vitamins. Yet, for pregnant women with asthma, one item in particular should move to the top of the checklist: remembering to keep up your asthma treatment. In a study published in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers found that children whose mothers neglected their asthma treatment during pregnancy had a higher risk of developing the respiratory disease themselves as compared with children whose mother’s kept their condition under control while pregnant.

The study, one of the largest of its kind to date, analyzed medical records for more than 8,000 children born to asthmatic mothers, tracking them from birth to age 10. Myriad factors—ranging from environmental influences to family history can contribute to a child’s likelihood of developing asthma, and a parent with asthma automatically increases the risk that the child too will develop the condition. Yet, the study’s finding that, of children whose moms skimped on their asthma treatment during pregnancy, nearly one third went on to develop the disease themselves, suggests that maintaining consistent treatment is a simple way for expecting mothers to at least diminish their child’s risk.