Asthma Medications and Pregnancy

There are two categories of medication used in the treatment of asthma. There is one category of drugs, relievers, which are used to treat acute asthma flare-ups as they occur. These medications are known for the capacity to provide quick relief to asthma patients suffering from asthma attacks when taken in the midst of or at the onset of an attack.

Fast-acting asthma medications are usually administered to the patient by use of an inhaler, which requires the patient to breathe in the medication, which is given in small concentrated bursts.

The second type of asthma medication, Preventers, is the long-term maintenance medications, which are used not to treat attacks as they happen but instead they treat the illness preventatively.  They work over an extended period of time in order to develop resistances within the body that enable the patient to avoid acute attacks.  Unlike fast-relief medications, these medications will not give immediate results. Patients must attain a specific amount of the medication in their blood in order to get the effects of the treatment regimen.

The following is some detailed information about the medications commonly used in the treatment and prevention of asthma attacks and their effects when taken by women who are pregnant:

Steroid Inhalers (Pulmicort - Budesonide).
These medications have never given indication to believe that they prove a risk to an unborn baby. As a matter of fact, research has shown that they may provide protection to the baby in case of an asthma attack in its mother.

Cromoglycate (Lomudal, Cromolyn) and Nedocromil (Tilarin)
These asthma medications, in contrast to other prevents do not include steroids. As a result they are considered extremely safe for pregnant mothers. There has been no evidence that they will cause harmful effects to unborn babies. These medications have been prescribed since 1968.  Although they are not among the newer medications available, they are still considered great treatment methods for asthmatics who respond to their effects.

Unlike many of the commonly used preventer-type medications, Theophylline given in tablet form.  Unlike the inhaled steroids, this medication does not get broken down by the liver.  This medication is commonly prescribed, and is considered safe for use in pregnancy.

Bronchodilators - Relievers
Albuterol (Ventolin, and other brands)
Albuterol has been commonly used in the treatment of asthma since the 1960s. It is safe to use during pregnancy, but when the medication is used in large dosages either by infusion or injection near the time of birth, it can actually delay birth. Actually, the medication has been utilized specifically for this purpose.

Terbutaline (Bricanyl) is very similar to albuterol.  All of the information above also applies to Terbutaline.

Long-Acting Relievers:
Long acting relievers function much in the same way as Albuterol and Terbutaline.  The side-effects of the medication are also the same, including tremors, increased pulse, and heart palpitations.  These drugs are newer then the two listed above, however they are not known to cause difficulties during pregnancy.

Serevent - Salmeterol Xinafoate
Foradil - Eformoterol

Steroid Tablets or Injections:
These medications are generally only used by physicians in the case of extreme emergency.  A few asthmatics will require these medications on a regular basis. Although there are known risks to the unborn child, the percentages are in the favour of the baby, so if a patient requires these medications for their own safety they should continue to take them as part of their regular treatment regimen.
Pregnant patients with an asthma diagnosis must need to pay close attention to the details of their treatment plan. It is extremely important that all patients consider asthma a very serious health condition and make every effort to follow the treatment plan prescribed, especially when they are pregnant.

Asthma Guide


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