WOMEN's lung health program at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, members of Partners Asthma Center have teamed with physicians in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Division of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to provide collaborative care for women with asthma who are pregnant or are contemplating pregnancy.  It is estimated that between 8 and 10% of women of childbearing age have asthma.  Asthma can worsen during pregnancy, and poorly controlled asthma can have an adverse impact on the developing baby.  Drs. Megan Hardin, Barbara Cockrill, and Christopher Fanta have begun working closely with obstetricians in the Brigham’s “high-risk” pregnancy group (Maternal-Fetal Medicine), so that pregnant asthmatic women can receive expert respiratory as well as obstetrical care and have an uncomplicated labor and the delivery of a healthy baby.

This collaboration is part of a broader initiative at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to create a coalition of medical and surgical chest physicians dedicated to meeting the special needs of women with respiratory disease.  Women and men differ in many ways, including biologic differences that influence the behavior of both common and uncommon respiratory diseases, and psychosocial differences that affect the impact of respiratory diseases on the lives of individuals and families.  Asthma is a perfect example: in childhood, more boys than girls have asthma.  Then, after adolescence and the surge of sex hormones, more women suffer asthma than men.  And some women experience worsening of their asthma symptoms each month in association with their menstrual periods. 

These sex differences are not unique to asthma.  We find many medical issues that are sex-specific in other respiratory diseases, including COPD (cigarette-smoking-related chronic obstructive lung disease), lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, bronchiectasis (especially as relates to non-tuberculous mycobacterial pulmonary infections such as Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare or MAI), pulmonary hypertension, and upper airway cough and wheezing.  Through our Women’s Lung Health Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, we are coming together to provide medical care that is attentive to these differences, while at the same time we learn more about them through systematic study.  To find out more about the Brigham’s Women’s Lung Health Program, including its mission, participating members, services, and contact information, simply click on the link at the right.