Access to prenatal care is vital, particularly for mothers with pre-existing medical conditions. This was underscored earlier this week when a study review concluded that mothers with asthma have an increased risk of pregnancy complications, from lower birth weight to higher rates of pre-eclampsia to higher risks of giving birth prematurely.
The findings came after researchers reviewed 40 different published studies involving over 1 million women from 1975 to 2009. In the case of pre-eclampsia, the risk was as much as 50% higher in an asthmatic mother.
The study also concluded that when the mother’s asthma is managed properly, the likelihood of these complications can be virtually eliminated, particularly in the case of preterm labor.
The authors were clear: it is extremely important that mothers with asthma seek out and receive regular and ongoing prenatal care. The complications that arise from poorly managed asthma not only put the mother and baby at risk — they are also expensive for the healthcare system. Certainly, active management during pregnancy would be far less expensive to a public health care system (or to an individual’s hospital bills) than an emergency c-section, or an extended stay for a premature baby in the NICU.
Sadly, there is an increasing trend towards denying mothers prenatal care under certain social circumstances — such as if the mother is an undocumented immigrant, or if their access to prenatal care is at a clinic that had its funding cut because it also provides family planning services. These shortsighted, politically-driven cuts do nothing to further any social causes, and ironically only serve to hurt those the pushers of these laws claim to want to protect the most: the unborn.
Photo Credit: net_efekt on Flickr