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Maternal Distress Raises Risk of Childhood Asthma
Date:1/15/2008

Study finds moms with persistent depression, anxiety more likely to have children with airway disease

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Children born to mothers who have persistent depression or anxiety have an increased risk of developing asthma, new research suggests.

Canadian researchers report a 25 percent increase in the odds of asthma for children who are exposed to maternal distress from birth to age 7. No such association was found for short-lasting maternal distress, such as postpartum depression.

"Asthma is a multi-factorial disease, and we've identified one possible factor that might be associated with its development," said study author Anita Kozyrskyj, an associate professor in the faculty of pharmacy at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. "I think the good thing is that this is a risk factor that can be prevented."

The findings are published in the second January issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

About 20 million Americans, including 9 million children, have asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The exact cause of asthma remains unknown, but researchers have found many factors that can contribute to the development of the disease, such as a family history, exposure to secondhand smoke, and other environmental triggers.

Because the rise in the incidence of asthma seemed to parallel an increase in the amount of chronic stress experienced by women in general, and because other research suggested a possible link between asthma and maternal distress, Kozyrskyj and her colleagues reviewed the medical records of almost 14,000 children in Manitoba, from birth to age 7.

Asthma status was defined by having had at least two doctor visits for asthma, one asthma hospitalization or two or more prescriptions for asthma medication. Maternal distress was defined as having a doctor visit
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