Asthma: An overlooked risk to mothers, infants

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes air to be trapped in a person’s lungs, making it difficult for sufferers to breath properly. It’s a common condition for many people — particularly in urban areas where pollution tends to aggravate the symptoms. It’s also the No. 1 chronic disease among pregnant women.

Yet, asthma is often inadequately treated during pregnancy. Around 40% of women with asthma reduce or stop taking their medication during pregnancy over fears of harming their unborn child with the drugs.

This is putting both the mother and the child at risk. In the late stages of pregnancy, breathing can already be impaired due to the position of the baby. A severe asthma attack can be fatal to both mother and child.

Even when asthma doesn’t turn deadly for the mother, it can lead to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Pregnant women with uncontrolled asthma suffer 17% more incidents of high blood pressure and 30% more episodes of the life-threatening condition called preeclampsia.

Children born to mothers with uncontrolled symptoms also have more health problems. The asthma attacks may interfere with fetal development, causing a 14% increase in premature deliveries and a 21% increase in birth defects like a cleft lip or malformed heart.

All of the newest evidence indicates that uncontrolled asthma is far more dangerous to the mother and the newborn than asthma medications ever could be. That means that doctors have an obligation to consider a pregnant mother’s asthmatic history carefully and make medication recommendations in line with that idea. Discounting a pregnant woman’s asthma symptoms is taking an unnecessary risk.

If your doctor failed to monitor your chronic health condition carefully during your pregnancy with tragic results, you may be entitled to compensation that can help you provide for your child and obtain necessary medical treatment.

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