In underserved communities, a lack of educational resources and health access prevent pregnant women with asthma from receiving proper care, but interventions are showing promise.
The incidence of asthma in pregnant women is increasing, and those in underserved communities are especially at risk. Women tend to struggle more to control their asthma symptoms during pregnancy, resulting in more emergency visits and adverse pregnancy outcomes. With both the mother and baby’s health at stake, interventions for pregnant women living in underserved communities must be developed.
Independent of healthcare disparities, pregnant women are more likely to enter preterm labor and have low birthweight babies if they have asthma. Moreover, obstetric complications due to asthma put babies at greater risk for bronchiolitis and congenital malformations. The risk to pregnant women is elevated in underserved communities, where asthma is more prevalent. Therefore, pregnant women with asthma in underserved communities are a unique population with unmet needs.
In 2021, an antenatal asthma management program was launched in Philadelphia, in which 80% of the participants were Black and over 60% lived in impoverished neighborhoods. The program involved education, regular monitoring, and focused follow-up visits. These interventions improved asthma control in pregnant women. Other programs implemented group-style treatment and peer-led community health workshops, which decreased emergency room visits and increased asthma knowledge.
Disparities in asthma prevalence are thought to be due to structural inequalities, lack of healthcare access, and poor health education. The consequences of poorly-managed asthma are particularly serious for pregnant women. Targeted interventions in underserved communities have already shown promise for improving pregnancy outcomes. With improved home-based interventions, education, and follow-up care, managing asthma complications in pregnancy can be alleviated.
Gandler, A., Schulman, E. S., & Yoo, E. J. (2023). Improving Asthma Outcomes During Pregnancy in Underserved Communities. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America, 43(1), 199-208. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iac.2022.07.002