Here you’ll find the answers to frequently asked questions, including the risks associated with asthma during pregnancy and childhood, and the possible link between high dosage steroids and learning disability.
Q. What happens if my child stops breathing? What are the odds he/she will suffocate?
A. Any parent who has seen a child in this situation—gasping for breath, the skin around his lips turning blue and purple, his face pale and clammy—understands that sense of mounting panic. You may be familiar with the asthma triggers involved and the course of action required, but it’s still hard to cope in this type of emergency. In the vast majority of cases, the situation is controllable and manageable. Always keep your child’s inhaler at hand for quick relief and seek emergency medical attention to make sure breathing is fully restored.
Q. Could the steroid medications my child has been prescribed result in learning disabilities or psychiatric problems?
A. Although cognitive deficits have been recorded in rare cases when high doses of dexamethasone and prednisone have been administered, the use of high-dose oral steroids in asthmatics is generally restricted to short-term treatment following severe attacks. The more commonly used daily form of inhalation steroids are of a much lower dose and act locally upon the lung tissue rather than affecting the whole body.
Q. Does childhood asthma persist into adulthood?
A. Despite the high diagnosis rate during childhood, research indicates that most cases do not persist into adulthood. It also suggests that asthma triggers that affect infants and young children often lose their impact in adulthood. This is particularly evident in mild cases.
Q. I’m concerned about asthma and pregnancy. Is pregnancy safe for me and the fetus? Can I safely continue with my medication during pregnancy?
A. The medical community agrees on most aspects of asthma and pregnancy. Most doctors agree that it is generally safe for asthmatics to become pregnant, and that most asthma medication can be taken during pregnancy. Evidence of damage to either mother or baby due to the condition itself is negligible. However, situations in which asthma is not controlled during pregnancy can result in intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight, and in extreme cases, fetal death. The greatest risk to the fetus occurs when the condition remains untreated. Asthmatics who are considering becoming pregnant should consult their physician for advice regarding their specific medications.