The Question: Do the asthma medications pregnant woman use increase the risk of birth defects?

The Study: The records of 2,853 infants with one or more selected birth defects were compared to those of 6,726 normal infants, looking for mothers with asthma and what medications they took while pregnant. The researchers from the NY State Department of Health looked at medication use during the periconceptual period (from one month before conception to the first three months of pregnancy) and divided the asthma drugs into two categories: bronchodialators and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The Results: No relationship was found between the majority of birth defects and periconceptual use of the two classes of asthma medications. There was an increase in three birth defects (esophageal atresia [narrowing or absence], anorectal atresia, and omphalocele [abdominal organs outside the body]).

Comment: This study is mostly good news. It’s unknown if the possible relationship between the three birth defects and asthma medication use is due to the severity of the maternal asthma and hypoxia or is a random finding.

Read More: Pediatrics, 02/12

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From issue: 28/01-02