Asthma UK Comment On Research Linking Pre-natal Stress And Asthma Development In Young Children

Jun 9 07:59 2010 Edward Laing Print This Article

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Pregnancy-related Stress

A director of Research at Asthma UK,Guest Posting Leanne Metcalf, stated that there is now a strong and growing affirmation which suggests that a pregnant mother undergoing significant levels of stress before the conception of her child may have increased risk of developing asthma later on in life.

Social stressors such as difficulty in managing finances, work-related stress, issues with spouses, and many other stressors may have certain effects on the fetus during pre-conception. Although, family history is also an important risk factor in the development of asthma, the development of asthma has now been theorized as not strictly genetic in origin.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a respiratory disorder that has the ability to exacerbate and go into remissions and is characterized by repeating episodes of difficulty of breathing caused by occlusion of the bronchi, vigorous coughing and production of thick mucoid respiratory secretions. The episodes are in part precipitated by inhalation of allergens or pollutants, bacterial or viral infections, cold, humid air, excessive physical activity and emotional stressors.

Certain allergens such as dust, pollen or animal dander increase the risk of developing asthma in children but a mother’s stress levels during pre-conception can also have consequences to a child or infant’s flourishing immune system. Recent studies also do suggest that the association of both stress and allergen exposure even during pregnancy may intensify the effects on the immune system of an infant.

What the Studies Say

Researchers conducting a study on pregnant mothers in Boston took blood samples of fetal cord blood in pregnant mothers while exposed to relatively high levels of stress and exposure to certain allergens. They soon discovered that mothers who experienced high levels of stress have increased levels of immunoglobulin E, which is primarily responsible for the development of symptoms in asthma, that intensified effects of allergen exposure on the offspring’s immune response at birth even though the child was exposed to lower levels of allergen after birth.

According to Dr. Wright, one of the doctors heading and conducting the research in Boston, the research adds to a developing framework of knowledge and evidence that links maternal stressors such as issues of finances, marital relationships, or other factors that provide significant amounts of stress, to the development of a child’s immune system, even during pregnancy. While these findings are important, Dr. Wright noted that only continuing follow-up with these children is the only way for them to know if indeed the observations that they initially gathered really do provide increased risks in the development of asthma in children.

Causes, Signs, and Symptoms

According to Asthma UK, a child is sent to the hospital in the United Kingdom at least every 19 minutes. Causes have been suggested but clear cut evidence of these causes is pretty much primarily unknown. Studies like the ones held in Boston prove to be very important as they provide researchers and health practitioners with valuable information regarding factors promoting the development of asthma.

This, in turn, will provide measures that can be done to prevent the development of asthma and advance newer and better ways to alleviate symptoms in the child having an asthma attack, ultimately preventing its progression to more severe forms.

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Edward  Laing
Edward Laing

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