Asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders that affect pregnant women with approximately 12% of all pregnant women affected (Source - Health Direct Australia).
Maternal asthma is associated with an increased risk of low birthweight, the child being small for their gestational age and pre-term (premature) delivery of the baby and hence, adequate control of asthma during pregnancy is critical.
Researchers in the HMRI VIVA research program investigate the characteristics, mechanisms and consequences of asthma exacerbations during pregnancy and their health impact on both the mother and the baby.
Another interesting aspect of this research group is to assess the effect of viral infections on maternal asthma and in turn, pregnancy and infant outcomes. They have found that maternal viral infections during pregnancy increase the risk of wheezing illness in infants and are currently investigating the mechanisms behind this finding.
Clinical trials and research studies are an integral part of this group’s research. The Breathing for Life Trial is a hallmark study investigating whether adjusting asthma treatment based on lung inflammation improves outcomes for the baby. This study is underway at the John Hunter Hospital, the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick, the Nepean Hospital, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and the Royal North Shore Hospital.