ASTHMA TREATMENT AND PREGNANCY
ANCHOR LEAD: WOMEN WHO HAVE ASTHMA AND ARE PREGNANT MAY HAVE A NEW CONCERN, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
A class of drugs known as beta 2 adrenergic agonists, such as albuterol, are used to manage asthma. In women who are pregnant, a recent study shows use of these drugs may be related to the development of autism in the baby. Frank Witter, one of the study’s authors and an obstetrician-gynecologist at Johns Hopkins, explains.
WITTER: Beta2 adrenergic agonists appear to have an effect that when given from about the middle of the second trimester to the middle of the third trimester in a continuous fairly high dose they change the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, making it sympathetic nervous system dominant. There are things that this can result in, one of the more troubling ones is that autism and the autism spectrum disease is associated with increased sympathetic tone. :32
Witter says for now, pregnant women shouldn’t panic, but if there are drugs that are just as effective it may be prudent to switch. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.