Salbutamol

(Date: August 2021. Version: 1)

This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Public Health England on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

What is it?

Salbutamol helps to open up the airways in the lungs. It is used to treat asthma, often in the form of a ‘blue inhaler’. Brand names include Ventolin, Airomir, Asmalal, Easyhaler, Pulvinal, Salamol, Easi-Breathe, and Salbulin.

What are the benefits of using salbutamol in pregnancy?

Salbutamol improves breathing, preventing dangerous asthma attacks. Asthma medicines like salbutamol should be continued in pregnancy, as the baby needs oxygen to stay alive, grow and develop.  

Are there any risks of using salbutamol in pregnancy?

No. Salbutamol from an inhaler stays mainly in the lungs. Very little salbutamol reaches the baby and it has not been shown to cause harm.

Are there any alternatives to using salbutamol in pregnancy?

Probably not. Women whose asthma is well-controlled with salbutamol will be advised to stay on their medication during pregnancy.  

What if I prefer not to take medicines in pregnancy?

Your doctor will only prescribe medicines when needed and will be happy to talk with you about any concerns. Asthma medications should normally be continued in pregnancy to ensure that your asthma remains well-controlled. Poorly controlled asthma has been linked to pregnancy complications such as problems with the baby’s growth, premature delivery and pre-eclampsia.

Will I or my baby need any extra monitoring?

As part of routine antenatal care, all women are offered a detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy to check the baby’s development. Women using salbutamol in pregnancy do not need any additional scans unless their asthma is severe.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has used salbutamol?

There is no evidence that salbutamol used by the father around the time of conception can harm the baby.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions about the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from www.uktis.org   

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General information 

Up to 1 out of every 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and 1 in 40 babies are born with a birth defect. These are referred to as the background population risks.  They describe the chance of these events happening for any pregnancy before taking factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, her lifestyle, medicines she takes and the genetic make up of her and the baby’s father into account.

Medicines use in pregnancy

Most medicines used by the mother will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Sometimes this may have beneficial effects for the baby.  There are, however, some medicines that can harm a baby’s normal development.  How a medicine affects a baby may depend on the stage of pregnancy when the medicine is taken. If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please ensure the doctor or health care professional treating you is aware of your pregnancy.

When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause. Our bumps leaflets are written to provide you with a summary of what is known about use of a specific medicine in pregnancy so that you can decide together with your health care provider what is best for you and your baby.   

Every pregnancy is unique. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider. It is very helpful if you can record all your medication taken in pregnancy in your hand held maternity records.

   

www.medicinesinpregnancy.org

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. New information is continually becoming available. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, we cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes following decisions made on the basis of this information. We strongly advise that printouts should NOT be kept for any length of time, or for “future reference” as they can rapidly become out of date.

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