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Keywords:

  • asthma;
  • fetal sex;
  • pregnancy;
  • preterm;
  • still birth

Objective:  To determine if there are sex differences in risk and incidence of stillbirth, preterm delivery and small-for-gestational age (SGA) in pregnancies complicated by maternal asthma relative to a non-asthmatic population.

Study design:  Univariant and multiple regression analysis of the incidence of preterm delivery, SGA and stillbirth in singleton pregnancies complicated by asthma in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, from 1995 to 1999.

Results:  Asthma complicated 12% of all singleton pregnancies. The incidence of preterm delivery was not significantly different between asthmatic (13%) and non-asthmatic (11%) pregnancies. Male fetuses (53%) were more likely to deliver preterm than female fetuses (47%) in both asthmatic and non-asthmatic populations. There were significantly more male neonates of pregnancies complicated by asthma that were SGA at term relative to those of the non-asthmatic population. There were significantly more preterm female neonates that were SGA in pregnancies complicated by asthma relative to those of the non-asthmatic population. Male fetuses were more likely to be associated with a stillbirth in pregnancies complicated by asthma than female fetuses.

Conclusion:  The presence of maternal asthma during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth for the male fetus and is associated with changes in fetal growth, but does not increase the incidence of a preterm delivery.