Asthma, allergies or hay fever in pregnancy

Asthma, allergies or hay fever in pregnancy

If you are pregnant and suffer from hay fever, asthma or an allergy, you may have a lot of questions. How might these medical conditions be affected during pregnancy? Is it possible that the foetus maybe be affected by the asthma or allergy medicines? Is there something you can do for the baby to not develop asthma or allergies? Is there something else you should think about?

It may be good to know that in most cases you will be able to continue to live your life as normal during your pregnancy. For some, these medical conditions may get worse, but others will not notice any difference at all, or will actually feel better. In either case, it is extra important that you take your medicines as you should during this period, as you have been advised to. 

Asthma and pregnancy

There is no correlation between prolonged treatment with asthma medicines and premature birth or foetal damages. The great majority will be able to keep using their inhaled corticosteroid, bronchial dilating medicines and oral antileukotrienes as before. It is not, however, common to initiate a treatment with antileukotrienes during pregnancy and would only be prescribed if it is considered to be clearly essential. 

If you think that your asthma is worsening during your pregnancy it may be that you need a higher dosage or the treatment may need to be adjusted. An insufficiently treated asthma, that may lead to asthma attacks is a bigger risk to the foetus than the potential risks the medicines may bring. This is why it is important to keep in touch with your doctor during the pregnancy.

Hay fever and allergies in pregnancy

Nasal congestion

Women suffering from allergies, who are often experiencing nasal congestion, may sometimes notice a deterioration of their symptoms during the pregnancy. This is because the organs and tissues of the body sometimes swell when you are pregnant, which also affects the mucous membrane of the nose. In some cases, even the sense of smell is affected. If you are already using a nasal spray with antihistamines, or corticosteroid to treat your allergic nasal congestion, you may continue using the medication during your pregnancy since the medicines are not known to be harmful to the foetus but caution and risk benefit should be discussed with Health Care Professional. Antihistamine tablets are rarely used to treat nasal congestion but if you take them for other reasons it may be good to choose a modern type of tablet that does not cause tiredness. Corticosteroid pills are not usually used to treat nasal congestion during pregnancy.When pregnant, you should always check your medicines leaflet or seek professional advice. 

Women suffering from asthma, who are also allergic, need to pay extra attention that their nasal problems are properly treated during the pregnancy, otherwise the asthma might take a turn for the worse and put the foetus at risk. If you have not been allergic before, but became allergic during a pregnancy you will get the same treatment as a non-pregnant woman.  

Eczema

If you have got eczema caused by allergy, it is likely to get worse during the first few weeks of pregnancy. The best thing to do is seek professional advice and try to identify avoid what is triggering or worsening the eczema. It is also important to keep the skin moisturised by using skin moisturising lotions, and you maybe prescribed a corticosteroid cream on the basis of a risk benefit assessment. It is only the strongest corticosteroid creams and creams with calcineurin inhibitors that should be avoided. Corticosteroid pills or corticosteroid injections can be used after consultation with a dermatologist and gynaecologist. Treatments with tar and natural remedies should be avoided because of the lack of research on how they affect the foetus. You may continue your UVB-light therapy, whereas PUVA-therapy is not recommended.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy (allergy vaccine therapy) will take from three to five years to complete and should not be initiated during pregnancy. If you have already started on a vaccine treatment you may continue taking the injections, provided you have reached a full dosage of the vaccine and have not experienced any serious reactions. Talk to your doctor first so that you can go through the risks involved together. 

Preventing asthma and allergies in the baby

It is most likely a combination of lifestyle, environment and heredity that determines who will develop asthma or allergies that is why it is difficult to say how to best prevent these diseases among children.

What you can be sure about is that tobacco smoke increases the risk of asthma in the unborn child. To avoid smoky environments and to not smoke yourself are the most important things you can do to protect your child from poor lung function and problems of the respiratory tract, both during your pregnancy and the first few years of your child's life. Speak with your doctor if you need to use nicotine replacement remedies in order to stop smoking, some remedies are not recommended during pregnancy.

Breastfeeding protects the child from viral infections and asthma-like problems, and is therefore recommended for up to six months old. However, it is unclear whether breastfeeding prevents allergies and eczema. Scientists do not know exactly how pets in the house affect the foetus, but it is usually not recommended that families remove their pets prior to the birth of the child.

Studies suggest that the diet of the mother-to-be may help to protect the child from allergies, although more research is needed in this area. In general, pregnant women are encouraged to keep a varied and nutritious diet and to not exclude any type of food due to fear of causing an allergy in the child.



UK/GEN/15/0057f                      Date of preparation: December 2015 

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