Depression Symptoms and Adult-Onset Asthma in African American Women

Researchers writing in the January, 2014, edition of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology note that “some evidence suggests that depression may increase the risk of adult-onset asthma. No data are available for African American women, in whom the prevalence of depression and asthma is high.” The authors conducted a “prospective analyses of the relation of depressive symptoms to asthma incidence in the Black Women’s Health Study, a prospective cohort of US black women followed since 1995 with mailed biennial questionnaires. Of 31,848 participants followed from 1999 to 2011, 771 reported incident asthma. Depressive symptoms were ascertained on 1999 and 2005 follow-up questionnaires with the Center for Epidemiological Studies–Depression Scale (CES-D).” According to the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, which sponsored the study, “African-American women who reported high levels of depressive symptoms had a greater likelihood of adult-onset asthma compared to women who reported fewer depressive symptoms….’Our results are consistent with positive findings from three previous studies of depressive symptoms and asthma incidence conducted in smaller and primarily white populations,’ said [lead author Patricia] Coogan. ’The hypothesized mechanism linking depressive symptoms to asthma incidence is depression-related stress and its physiological consequences, particularly effects on the immune system and the airways.  Given the high prevalence of both asthma and of depression in women, the association is of public health importance,’ Coogan added.”

Both the abstract and the report from Boston University are online.