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21-03-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Common cold risk increased in pregnant women with asthma


Free abstract

medwireNews: Pregnant women with asthma are at increased risk for common colds compared with their nonasthmatic counterparts, study results show.

The researchers also found that, among pregnant women with asthma, those with laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections were more likely to have uncontrolled asthma and were at greater risk for pre-eclampsia than those without.

"It is possible that inflammation associated with the response to viral infection and/or asthma exacerbation may contribute to the underlying endothelial dysfunction in pre-eclampsia," suggest Vanessa Murphy (University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute, New South Wales, Australia) and team.

In total, 168 women with asthma and 117 without the condition were assessed for the incidence and severity of common cold symptoms during pregnancy using self-reports and the common cold questionnaire.

Nasal and throat swabs were collected from women with suspected colds and assessed for the presence of viruses (rhinovirus, enterovirus, respiratory syncytial virus A and B, influenza A and B, coronavirus, and human metapneumovirus) using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

The researchers found that a significantly greater proportion of women with than without asthma reported experiencing a common cold during pregnancy, at 71% versus 46%. And more women with than without asthma had multiple common colds, at 33% versus 16%.

After accounting for follow-up time, atopy, parity, and maternal body mass index, women with asthma had a significantly higher incidence of common colds than those without, at an incidence rate ratio of 1.77.

In women with asthma, one third of the PCR-positive viral infections were associated with an exacerbation requiring medical intervention and a third were associated with loss of asthma control.

Women with asthma with PCR-positive colds also had a significantly increased risk for pre-eclampsia than those with asthma with PCR-negative colds, at an odds ratio of 8.48, after adjustment for known pre-eclampsia risk factors, such as maternal smoking, age, body mass index, and parity.

Murphy et al summarize in Chest: "Common colds were more frequently reported among pregnant women with asthma, compared to women without asthma... There was an impact on maternal health, with one third of infections associated with exacerbations requiring medical intervention."

They conclude that "prevention of respiratory viral infections may improve asthma outcomes during pregnancy."

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

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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