Australian Birth Defects Society

A Society devoted to the study of birth defects


MotherSafe is a free telephone service for the women of NSW, based at the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick.

Tis the season for: treating ASTHMA† in pregnancy

Q: I have just found out that Iím pregnant, and I havenít had an asthma attack for a long timeÖ. should I stop my asthma medicines?

A: It is extremely important to have the best possible control of asthma during pregnancy, to improve the chance of the best outcome for both mother and baby. When asthma is well controlled, mother and baby have a good oxygen supply, and baby is able to grow properly. Stopping your medicine can put your baby at risk, so the answer to your question is no, you should not stop using your asthma medicines.

The aim of asthma control during pregnancy is to avoid reduced oxygen to the baby, so that baby can grow normally. Poorly controlled asthma is associated with low birth weight and premature delivery. When asthma is well controlled, the risk of your baby having these outcomes is no greater than for women who donít have asthma.


The risk of having a severe asthma attack is greatest for women who stop regular preventer medicine in pregnancy, so it is important to continue using your preventer and to see your doctor if your asthma symptoms get worse.


Most asthma medicines are not thought to increase the risk of your baby having a birth defect. Many asthma medicines have been on the market for many years and have been well studied in pregnant women. Some of the original medicines are rated Category A for pregnancy (indicating significant amounts of reassuring information has been gathered regarding use in human pregnancy) but most asthma preventers, and combinations of a preventer with a long acting bronchodilator, will be labelled as a Category B. This does not necessarily mean a lack of human pregnancy information, but that this information was lacking at the time the drug was released onto the market. Generally, women who are using these medicines are doing so because the newer products provide better control of asthma. It is important that you are using a medicine which is effective for your symptoms.

Sometimes women with asthma who are planning pregnancy, will explore with their doctor whether these older medicines are as effective for them Ė a trial of budesonide pre pregnancy is a reasonable option, but should not be attempted when a woman is already pregnant, as the risk of worsening asthma symptoms outweighs any perceived benefit from the use of the older medicine.

For more information about asthma and pregnancy visit:


For specific information regarding your particular medications in pregnancy or breastfeeding call MotherSafe 02 9382 6539 or 1800 647 848 (from country NSW only).

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Page updated 6 February 2017

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