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Asthma still under-treated in pregnant women

Thu Oct 6, 2005

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Asthma is not being treated adequately in young women, both before and during pregnancy, according to new data that support the findings of previous studies.

Appropriate use of inhaled corticosteroids during pregnancy reduces illness due to asthma, Dr. Michael Schatz from Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in San Diego told Reuters Health.

Current guidelines strongly advise that asthma be treated aggressively in women who are pregnant, Schatz and a colleague point out in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

They used a medical claims database to analyze asthma medication use in the 6 months before and 6 months after 633 women became pregnant. The data indicated that somewhat more than half of the women (334) had been prescribed an asthma-related drug before becoming pregnant.

Before pregnancy, 142 women were using asthma controller therapy -- most commonly an inhaled corticosteroid -- and 283 were using a short-acting bronchodilator with or without controller therapy.

Those numbers fell to 94 and 137 after the women became pregnant.

These and other findings from the analysis, the researchers conclude, "suggest that asthma remains under treated in women of childbearing age and even more so in those who are pregnant."

They emphasize that "treatment of asthma with inhaled corticosteroids during pregnancy decreases asthma-related exacerbations and health care use and has not been associated with adverse outcomes."

SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, September 2005.

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