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Pregnancy Problems

During pregnancy, your health is number one priority. That’s why we went straight to top pregnancy health experts for all the details you want to know about the most common pregnancy problems. In our pregnancy problems guide, you can read about a slew of pregnancy conditions – everything from hemorrhoids to gestational diabetes. Find out what any pregnancy symptom could possibly mean (are you swollen just because you’re expecting, or is it a sign of some complication?) and find out whether or not it’s worth a call to your OB. If you already know you’ve got a pregnancy complication or health condition, our comprehensive articles will give you the scoop on its causes and how it can affect you and baby. Plus, get treatment tips straight from medical experts and pregnant women like you. Yup, we've got answers to all your questions about pregnancy health problems right here!

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Asthma During Pregnancy

Want to know what medications are safe to take during pregnancy? Whether or not your asthma poses risks to baby? We've got answers.

What is asthma during pregnancy?

Asthma is a potentially serious lung disease. During an asthma attack, the airways become partially blocked, restricting the flow of air -- and the circulation of oxygen -- throughout the body. If you’ve got asthma, you’re probably wondering how it will affect your pregnancy.

What are the signs of asthma during pregnancy?

The most common signs and symptoms of asthma are wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. A persistent cough that usually occurs at night or early in the morning (when you don’t have a cold) can also be a sign of asthma.

Are there any tests for asthma during pregnancy?

You bet. If your doctor suspects asthma (or if you have a history of the disease), he’ll want to perform a lung function test, which measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs. You just exhale into a specially designed plastic tool, and you get the results immediately. If the number you blow is low, your airway is probably restricted. This number can be measured and tracked over time to see how well you’re managing your asthma.

How common is asthma during pregnancy?

About 4 to 8 percent of pregnant women have asthma.

How did I get asthma?

Asthma tends to be hereditary. So if your mom and grandpa had asthma, you were probably born with a tendency toward the disease. Exposure to certain viral infections or airborne allergens in early childhood may have led to asthma.

How will my asthma affect my baby?

Don’t worry -- as long as you manage your asthma well during pregnancy, the odds are your baby will be born healthy. But if your asthma is poorly controlled, your baby is more likely to have low birth weight and/or be born too soon.

“The thing that’s really, really important and crucial in pregnancy is to be sure that the baby is getting enough oxygen,” says Rebecca Kolp, MD, an ob-gyn at Massachusetts General Hospital West. If you’re not getting enough oxygen, your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen, so asthma control is particularly important for mamas-to-be (see next page for details on safe asthma treatment during pregnancy).

-- Rebecca Kolp, MD, ob-gyn and medical director at Massachusetts General Hospital West


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