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Original Research: Asthma |

A Prospective Study of Respiratory Viral Infection in Pregnant Women With and Without AsthmaRespiratory Viral Infection in Pregnancy

Vanessa E. Murphy, PhD; Heather Powell, MMedSc(ClinEpid); Peter A. B. Wark, BMed, PhD; Peter G. Gibson, MBBS
Author and Funding Information

From the Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases (Drs Murphy, Wark, and Gibson and Ms Powell), University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute; and John Hunter Hospital (Ms Powell and Drs Wark and Gibson), Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

Correspondence to: Vanessa E. Murphy, PhD, Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Diseases, Level 2, W Wing, Hunter Medical Research Institute, c/- University of Newcastle, University Dr, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia; e-mail: vanessa.murphy@newcastle.edu.au


Funding/Support: This study was funded by the University of Newcastle, Asthma Foundation of NSW, and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) [Grant 455593]. Dr Murphy was the recipient of an NHMRC Australian Research Training Fellowship (part-time). Dr Gibson is an NHMRC Practitioner Fellow.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2013;144(2):420-427. doi:10.1378/chest.12-1956
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Published online

Background:  Respiratory viral infections are common in pregnancy, but their health impact, especially in asthma, is unknown. The objective of this study was to assess the frequency, severity, and consequences of respiratory viral infection during pregnancy in women with and without asthma.

Methods:  In this prospective cohort study, common cold symptoms were assessed during pregnancy in 168 women with asthma and 117 women without asthma using the common cold questionnaire and by self-report. Nasal and throat swabs were collected for suspected infections and tested by polymerase chain reaction for respiratory viruses. Pregnancy and asthma outcomes were recorded.

Results:  Pregnant women with asthma had more prospective self-reported and questionnaire-detected common colds than pregnant women without asthma (incidence rate ratio, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.30-2.42; P < .0001). Retrospectively reported common colds in early pregnancy and post partum were increased in women with asthma compared with women without asthma. The severity of cold symptoms was also increased in women with asthma (total cold score median, 8; interquartile range [5, 10] in women with asthma vs 6 [5, 8] in control subjects; P = .031). Among women with asthma, having a laboratory-confirmed viral infection was associated with poorer maternal health, with 60% of infections associated with uncontrolled asthma and a higher likelihood of preeclampsia.

Conclusions:  Pregnant women with asthma have more common colds during pregnancy than pregnant women without asthma. Colds during pregnancy were associated with adverse maternal and pregnancy outcomes. Prevention of viral infection in pregnancy may improve the health of mothers with asthma.

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