Jan. 15, 2008 -- Children's odds of developing asthma may be higher if their mothers are under long-term stress, a Canadian study shows.
The study included nearly 14,000 children born in 1995 in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Nearly 7% of the kids had been diagnosed with asthma by age 7.
The researchers focused on maternal distress, based on doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions for depression or anxiety any time from the child's birth until age 7. Pregnancy stress wasn't included.
Children of mothers with long-term stress (not just postpartum stress) were 25% more likely than other kids to develop asthma, regardless of other asthma risk factors, such as gender, urban or rural location, and neighborhood income.
Those risks were even steeper for children of stressed, high-income moms and for kids with at least one sibling.
The researchers aren't blaming stressed moms for children's asthma. And it's not clear how moms' stress affects kids' odds of developing asthma.
But the researchers conclude that "maternal distress in early life plays a role in the development of childhood asthma, especially if it continues beyond the postpartum period."
The University of Manitoba's Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, and colleagues report their findings in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.