Prenatal stress in moms leads to asthma in babies

May 19th, 2008 - 1:33 pm ICT by admin  

Toronto, May 19 (IANS) Some of the stress during pregnancy might cause the foetus to become more sensitive to allergen exposure and possible risk of asthma in future. “While predisposition to asthma may be, in part, set at birth, certain substances that cause allergies like dust mites, can increase a child’s chance of developing asthma and may begin before birth,” said Rosalind J. Wright of Harvard Medical School.

While animal studies suggest that the combination of stress and allergen exposure during pregnancy may magnify the effects on the immune system, this is the first study to examine this directly.

Researchers analysed levels of maternal stress and mother’s exposure to dust mite allergen in their homes while pregnant, bearing on cord blood IgE expression - a marker of the child’s immune response at birth - in 387 infants.

They found increased levels of IgE expression in cord blood among infants whose mothers experienced higher level stress even when exposed to relatively low levels of dust mite during pregnancy.

This indicates that mother’s stress during pregnancy so magnified the effect of dust exposure on the child’s immune system that its response may be altered even with lower levels of dust exposure in the home.

“This further supports the notion that stress can be thought of as a social pollutant that, when ‘breathed’ into the body, may influence the body’s immune response similar to the effects of physical pollutants like allergens, thus adding to their effects,” Wright said.

These findings were presented Sunday at the American Thoracic Society’s 2008 International Conference here.

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