Asthmatic women that eat a high-sugar, high-fat diet are more at risk for uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy, a new study from University of Adelaide researchers study has found.

Of course, diet is essential for all women wanting to start a family. But it’s even more critical for women with asthma, says Dr Jessica Grieger from the University’s Robinson Research Institute:

“Asthma is a common chronic condition, affecting 8-13% of the population, but many people don’t realise that asthma during pregnancy can be very dangerous for both the mother and the baby – even more so if the asthma is poorly managed.“

Asthma causes recurring periods of shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. It results from chronic inflammation of the airways which, in turn, results in increased contractability of the surrounding smooth muscles. This leads, among other factors, to flare-ups of narrowing of the airway and the classic symptoms.

Uncontrolled Asthma Risks

Dr Grieger explains:

“Asthmatic women are up to 54% more likely to develop pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, have their baby early and deliver a baby of low birth weight. And having an asthma attack while pregnant can endanger a baby’s life.

In our research, we looked at the pre-conception diet of pregnant women with asthma and found that those who regularly ate fast food, fried potatoes, crisps and refined grains were more likely to have uncontrolled asthma.“

By effectively managing their asthma, women with the condition can persuasively reduce risks of pregnancy complication, says Dr Grieger:

“It’s important to have a healthy diet of lean meat, poultry and fish, and lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables before getting pregnant because we know that women rarely change their diet once they become pregnant.

Asthma can change when a woman becomes pregnant, with 50% of women experiencing a worsening of asthma as pregnancy progresses.

Asthma can be managed well during pregnancy with regular use of preventer medication, regular visits to the doctor when asthma flares up, and by eating a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Women with moderate and severe asthma should also have a current asthma action plan (which can be prepared alongside a doctor), and this is even more important for pregnant women.“

Jessica A Grieger, Grzeskowiak Luke E, Wood Lisa G, Clifton Vicki L Asthma control in pregnancy is associated with pre-conception dietary patterns Public Health Nutrition, DOI:

Photo: Anthea Sieveking , Wellcome Images, Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0

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