Study Indicates Stress during Pregnancy May Increase Offspring’s Risk of Asthma

A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, reports that stress during pregnancy may raise the risk of asthma in offspring. The researchers investigated differences in immune function markers in cord blood between infants born to mothers in high stress environments and those born to mothers with lower stress and found marked differences in patterns that may be associated with asthma risk later in life. Asthma is known to be more prevalent among ethnic minorities and among disadvantaged urban communities, but the disparity is not completely explained by known physical factors. Urban women living in the inner-city also experience significant stress, particularly minority women. The role of stress in asthma development is poorly understood, but animal studies have suggested that the mother’s stress during pregnancy can influence the offspring’s immune system, starting in the womb. For more information, click here.