Stressed mothers linked to pediatric asthma

October 8, 2008

In a study presented at the Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society, researchers stated that women late in pregnancy who are stressed have an increased risk of their child developing asthma.

In a study presented at the Annual Congress of the European Respiratory Society, researchers stated that women late in pregnancy who are stressed have an increased risk of their child developing asthma.

Data were taken from 5,810 mothers and their children; nearly 13% of children in the study cohort had asthma. Researchers found a strong connection between asthma in children age 7 and a half years, and maternal anxiety at 18 weeks of pregnancy (14% higher risk of pediatric asthma) and particularly 32 weeks of pregnancy (17% higher risk of pediatric asthma). Furthermore, the additional risk of asthma in children born to the most stressed mothers could reach 53% at 18 weeks of pregnancy and 65% at 32 weeks of pregnancy.

In a separate study, Howard Eigen, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, found that the diagnosis of asthma in young children may be harder to determine than previously thought.

In a review of studies published in the October Clinical Pediatrics, Dr. Eigen noted in his study that early childhood asthma is often underrecognized because symptoms vary widely and are similar to non-specific cough, the flu, and bronchitis. In his study, Dr. Eigen highlighted recurrent wheeze associated with viral infection or exercise; cough; chronic bronchitis; recurrent pneumonia; and increased bronchial hyper-reactivity with mild exercise as symptoms consistent with asthma in early childhood.