More support needed for women with lung conditions who want to start a family

A summary of an ELF study published in ERJ Open Research

Women with lung conditions need more support and advice before, during and after pregnancy, according to a study by the European Lung Foundation.

The study, which was published in ERJ Open Research, collected the experiences and opinions of women living with a lung condition. Lung diseases can complicate pregnancy. Until now, we have not known much about the experiences of women with lung disease when they are pregnant.

What did the study look at?

An online survey took place between March and May 2018. 327 women took part in the survey. They had asthma, cystic fibrosis (CF), lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and sarcoidosis. The survey was available in 9 languages.

What do the results show?

226 women who completed the survey were pregnant at the time or had been pregnant before. Women with LAM and CF were most likely to rate the care they received during pregnancy as good or excellent. Women with asthma and sarcoidosis were more likely to rate it as poor or very poor. Other findings included:

  • Almost half of the women said they spoke to a primary care professional about becoming pregnant with a lung condition, and more than 2 out of 3 spoke to a lung specialist about this.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 women rated the information they received from a primary care professional before pregnancy as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 women felt they had not received support and advice about breastfeeding with a lung condition.
  • Women with sarcoidosis reported that they did not receive clear advice about how their condition would impact on pregnancy and how becoming pregnant might impact their health.
  • Women with asthma reported that they were not always able to access the information they needed from healthcare professionals.
Why is this important?

The study suggests there are differences in the level of support that women with lung conditions receive. Many women feel that their concerns are not addressed. These findings suggest that healthcare providers should speak with women early on, before getting pregnant. They also need to follow up during pregnancy and after birth. Healthcare professionals need training to prepare them with the information they will need.

Read the original research paper

Title: Family planning, pregnancy and birth in women with lung conditions: a worldwide survey