Asthma medication during pregnancy may contribute to some birth defects, but the defects may result from the mother’s asthma severity and related hypoxia rather than medication. However, further data are needed, according to study results published online this month.
Shao Lin, PhD, of the New York State Department of Health, and colleagues examined data on 2,853 infants with one or more birth defects from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study and 6,726 healthy control infants born from October 1997 to December 2005.
Researchers studied the effect of bronchodilator and/or anti-inflammatory asthma medication use 1 month before to 3 months after gestation.
Lin and colleagues observed a statistically significant correlation between isolated esophageal atresia and bronchodilator use only. The adjusted ORs for esophageal atresia and anti-inflammatory use only and for use of both bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory medications were elevated, but were not statistically significant.
Multiple use of bronchodilators was found to cause higher risk than single use, although “the magnitudes of the associations were moderate (ORs ranged from 2.14 to 4.26),” the researchers said, adding that “given the low baseline prevalence of these defects, if the observed association proved to be causal, the absolute risk of asthma medications on these rare defects would be small.”
Lin and colleagues said these defects may be caused by hypoxia due to asthma severity rather than medication, and because this research could not distinguish between the two, more data are needed on asthma severity and treatments.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.