The respiratory response to pregnancy appears to be largely mediated by the action of progesterone and, perhaps to a lesser extent, oestrogens, at least in the first and second trimesters. The mechanical effects of the gravid uterus cause relatively little change in pulmonary mechanics, although finer changes in airways function require further investigation. Dyspnoea during pregnancy is also probably hormone-mediated but the exact temporal relationship between hormone status, functional change and the development of symptoms is not yet clearly defined.
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