Asthma is one of the more difficult health problems to control during pregnancy. Doctors need to control exacerbations, but they also want to reduce the amount of medication taken by pregnant women and thus the fetus. Instead of delivering medication on an as needed basis when asthma symptoms flare-up, researchers and doctors believe corticosteroids are better used earlier and more often at lesser doses.

For this study, researchers tested a FENO-based solution on half of the participants. FENO is a marker of lung inflammation. There were just more than 200 women in the study, all of whom suffered from asthma not related to smoking. Half the women received treatment based on the new algorithm designed by researchers. The FENO-based group suffered fewer exacerbations, which allowed doctors to treat patients with regulatory doses lower than patients in the control group.

The trouble with normal maintenance of asthma during pregnancy is dose control. Some women receive too much medication and others receive too little. Controlling asthma is important for the health of the fetus and mother during pregnancy. The FENO-based group suffered from 50-percent fewer exacerbations, so doctors were more apt to control on-going symptoms.

While the study group focused on pregnant women, there is no reason why FENO-based treatment programs could not help women in all stages of life control asthma symptoms more effectively with less medication. The FENO test measures FENO concentrations. As FENO concentrations rise, doctors can offer preventative therapy before symptoms begins.

According to Dr. Stanley J. Szefler, “These results lend to the hypothesis that FENO-guided therapy for asthma in pregnancy could lead to beneficial fetal outcomes; however, this notion needs to be confirmed by further study. Future work should investigate the application of this algorithm in routine antenatal care and other settings.”

Source: Heather Powell. The Lancet. 10 September, 2011.