Maternal Stress during Pregnancy Linked To Asthma Risk In Offspring

In a study published in the July, 2014, edition of the American Journal of Physiology, researchers examined “whether maternal stress can promote susceptibility to development of asthma-like allergic airways disease in offspring.” Pregnant mice were subjected to stress exposures, and their offspring were later tested for the “development of airway hyperreactivity (AHR) and allergic airway inflammation.” According to a news article published about the study, researchers “found that high concentrations of stress hormones (corticosterone or CORT) in the mother can cross the placenta and increase fetal CORT levels, potentially leading to a higher vulnerability to asthma and allergies. The offspring of all the mice were exposed to allergens after birth. According to the researchers, ‘Only the offspring of stressed mothers demonstrated increased asthma susceptibility compared with nonstressed mothers. We also demonstrated that a single episode of stress significantly elevated maternal stress hormone levels. These results indicate that maternal stress can play a role in the initiation of asthma by increasing asthma susceptibility in offspring.’

To read the abstract, click here. For the article, click here.