Promoting healthy behaviors to improve pregnancy outcomes requires an understanding of the factors influencing health behaviors among at-risk populations. We hypothesized that women with an asthma diagnosis would have poorer biobehavioral health risk factors and pregnancy outcomes compared to women without an asthma diagnosis. The Central Pennsylvania Women's Health Study (CePAWHS) included a population-based survey examining health status indicators, risk factors and outcomes, and detailed pregnancy histories among 2,002 women (ages 18-45). 213 asthmatics were identified. Compared with Non-asthmatic women (NA), Asthmatic (A) women reported lower rates of excellent health status (45% A vs. 65% NA, P<0.001), were more likely to be overweight or obese (68% A vs. 50% NA, P<0.001), and were more likely to have smoked cigarettes during their first pregnancy (25% A vs. 17% NA, P<0.01). Psychological measures (psychosocial hassles, low self-esteem, depression) were reported more often in asthmatics than non-asthmatics. Also, asthmatics reported a higher incidence of gestational diabetes (10% A vs. 6% of NA, P = 0.05), preterm births (25% A vs. 16% NA, P<0.01), and had a higher proportion of low birth weight infants (20% A vs. 13% NA, P = 0.03) compared with non-asthmatics. As predicted, asthmatics had poorer biobehavioral risk factors and outcomes compared to non-asthmatics. These findings illustrate the need to target asthmatic women of reproductive age, particularly in this largely rural setting, with interventions to reduce biobehavioral risk factors as part of a strategy to improve pregnancy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-455
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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