Women with asthma are more likely to have fertility
treatment before giving birth than non-asthmatic
women, according to new research presented at the
European Respiratory Society International Congress
2017 in Milan.
Among 744 pregnant asthmatic women enrolled in the
Management of Asthma During Pregnancy programme at
the Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark, and who
gave birth between 2007 and 2013, 12% had received
fertility treatment compared to 7% of the 2,136
non-asthmatic women in the control group.
Although the study does not prove that asthma played
a role in reducing fertility in some women, the
researchers say it suggests that improving women's
asthma control might help them to become pregnant
Professor Charlotte Suppli Ulrik, from the
Department of Respiratory Medicine at Hvidovre
Hospital, who supervised the study, said: "We don't
have the hard-core evidence, but based on what we
know, it seems very likely that good asthma control
will improve fertility in women with asthma by
reducing the time it takes to become pregnant and,
therefore, the need for fertility treatment.
"However, when it comes to fertility for women, age
is a crucial factor – so the message, particularly
for women with asthma, is don't wait too long, as it
might reduce your chances of having children."
Prof Suppli Ulrik and colleagues are setting up
studies to investigate further the association
between asthma and fertility, including a study
addressing the impact of good asthma control on
fertility. "Further studies are needed to confirm
our findings," she said.
Pregnant women were eligible for the study if they
had a diagnosis of asthma and had their first visit
to the respiratory clinic within the first 18 weeks
Each asthmatic woman was matched with three
consecutive non-asthmatic women who gave birth at
the hospital; these women made up the control group.
The researchers looked at whether the births in both
groups were due to spontaneous conception, or
whether the women had had assisted reproductive
technology (e.g. in vitro fertilisation – IVF) or
intrauterine insemination, regardless of the cause
of the infertility.
Women in the asthmatic group and the control group
were similar with regard to age, with an average age
of 31.3 years in the asthmatic group (ranging from
17 to 44 years old) and 30.9 years in the control
group (ranging from 17 to 45 years old).
The researchers adjusted their results to take
account of factors that could affect the results
such as age, body mass index, whether or not the
women smoked, had had previous children, were single
or in a same-sex partnership.
However, Prof Suppli Ulrik said they could not rule
out that the two groups might differ with regard to
income, life style and socio-economic factors.
For more information
The European Respiratory Society