Infographic with allergy facts

What you need to know about

Asthma and allergy treatment during pregnancy

Asthma, a type of reactive airway disease, affects about 8% of pregnant women and can cause serious complications for both mother and child if not controlled properly. The good news is when asthma and allergies are managed, risks to mother and baby are similar to women without this disease.

Proper control and treatment of your asthma and allergies will help promote a healthy pregnancy and baby. Visit your allergist or other doctor taking care of this condition and allergies regularly to evaluate and monitor your symptoms and medication.

Uncontrolled asthma can be harmful to you and your baby. The possible risks of medications to treat this condition are lower than the risks of uncontrolled asthma. Discuss the use of any medication with your doctor, ideally before pregnancy. Notify your allergist immediately if you plan to become pregnant or as soon as you know you are pregnant.

How will my pregnancy affect my asthma?

Your asthma may become worse during pregnancy, especially if it is severe. About a third of patients with this condition improve during pregnancy, particularly if the disease was mild before they became pregnant. Another third experience no change. If your asthma or asthma attacks become worse, it will most likely occur between your 24th and 36th week of pregnancy. Only about one in 10 women with this condition have symptoms during delivery.

Hormonal changes may affect your nose, sinuses and lungs and cause congestion or shortness of breath. These symptoms may be confused with, or trigger, asthma. Your allergist will help you determine if these symptoms are actually caused by this disease.

How will I know if my asthma is affecting my baby?

Your doctor may conduct several tests throughout your pregnancy to monitor and evaluate your asthma and its effects on you and your baby. Your age and other risk factors will be considered. If you have significant symptoms during the third trimester, more tests may be needed. Frequent electronic fetal heart rate monitoring and ultrasound testing may be performed to check your baby’s well-being. The doctor may instruct you to record your baby’s activity and kick counts daily to help monitor the baby.

Can I use my asthma and allergy medications while I’m pregnant and nursing?

Today, there are many excellent medications for treating this condition and allergies. No medication can be proven entirely safe for use during pregnancy. You and your doctor will work together to develop the best treatment plan for medication use and symptom control. The benefits of medication should outweigh its potential risks and risk of uncontrolled asthma.

  • Inhaled medications generally preferred due to more localized effect with only small amounts entering bloodstream
  • Time-tested, older medications preferred due to more experience with their use during pregnancy
  • First-trimester medication use limited as much as possible when baby is developing the most

Use of medication should not replace avoidance of allergens or irritants that trigger your asthma and allergies. Trigger avoidance can potentially reduce your need for medication. (Read more about environmental control)

Can I receive allergy shots?

If you are receiving allergy shots (immunotherapy) for the treatment of your asthma and/or allergies, it can be carefully continued during pregnancy. It is not recommended that immunotherapy be initiated during a pregnancy.

Should I get a flu shot?

Influenza (flu) vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women and especially important for those with asthma. There is no evidence of risk to you or your baby.