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19-11-2013 | Gynaecology | Article

Asthma prolongs time to pregnancy


Free abstract

medwireNews: Research shows that women with asthma take longer to conceive than women without the condition, an effect that grows stronger with age.

The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, used data from the Danish Twin Registry, involving 15,250 women born between 1953 and 1982 and aged a mean of 26.8 years at the time of the study.

The 6.3% of women who reported a history of asthma were 25% more likely to say that they and their partner had ever spent more than a year attempting to become pregnant without success than women without asthma (27.0 vs 21.6%). This association was even stronger in women aged over 30 years, who were 44% more likely to report a prolonged time to pregnancy if they had an asthma history (32.2 vs 24.9%).

Nevertheless, the mean number of children in the two groups of women was almost identical, at 1.86 and 1.83, respectively, as was the proportion of childless women, at 6.5% and 6.2%. The authors speculate this may be due to women with asthma having their first child earlier in life than women without asthma, at a mean of 25.5 years versus 26.2 years, respectively.

Encouragingly, the team notes that women with treated asthma tended to be less likely to experience delay to pregnancy, at 23.8% compared with 30.5% among women with untreated asthma.

“Although we observed women with asthma experiencing longer waiting times to pregnancy, our findings suggest that if women take their medication and control their asthma, they can reduce this delay,” commented lead author Elisabeth Juul Gade (Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark) in a press statement.

Additionally, women with asthma were no more likely to experience stillbirth, or extra-uterine pregnancy than those without asthma. But the authors note that a nonsignificant trend toward increased risk for spontaneous abortion could explain, in part, their findings with regard to time to pregnancy.

Gade and colleagues suggest that the overall mechanism linking asthma and subfertility is related to systemic inflammation, which they found some evidence for in their study.

“As the negative effect of asthma on fertility is reduced by treatment, we can assume that the systemic inflammation characterized by asthma may account for the effect on delaying fertility,” said Gade.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

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