An asthma management study developed by University of Newcastle researchers, which halved asthma attacks in pregnant women, has also yielded a 90 per cent postnatal reduction in bronchiolitis and croup among their children.
The MAP (Managing Asthma in Pregnancy) trial provided asthma treatment to two groups based on either clinical symptoms or airway inflammation measured using a marker known as Fraction of Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO).
A follow-up study of the infants led by Professor Joerg Mattes and Dr Vanessa Murphy has just confirmed that respiratory risk factors are at play beyond a genetic predisposition.
“A family history of asthma, particularly when it’s the mother, markedly increases the risk for babies to have respiratory disease,” Professor Mattes said.
“We wondered whether giving women better asthma treatment during their pregnancy would have a flow-on effect, and the difference was stunning and somewhat unexpected in its magnitude.
“Of the babies born to mothers who were managed according to FeNO, only 1.5 per cent had recurrent bronchiolitis in the first year compared to 16 per cent for mothers managed according to symptoms.”
Newcastle mum Jodi Slinn, who was involved in the trial, is excited to think her beautiful daughter Olivia, 4, might not have to endure asthma like she did.
Olivia’s lungs are working perfectly.
“I had a flare-up of asthma during my pregnancy but it was pretty well managed with medication. It’s nice to think that, by controlling it, Olivia might not have to worry about asthma and avoid going through that,” Jodi said.
“She breezes through the seasonal changes, whereas one of my twins does suffer asthma.”
The research team is commencing an expanded trial called Breathing for Life for pregnant mothers with asthma, involving more than 1000 women across multiple centres.
Bronchiolitis is one of the most common causes of hospitalisation for infants. Those who suffer the disease have an increased risk of developing asthma later in life.