After controlling the data to compensate for maternal age, race, smoking, education, history of allergy and asthma, the child's gender and the season of birth, the researchers found that the number of negative domains -- stressors -- reported was associated with an increased risk of elevated IgE in the cord blood.
"A mom who had three or more negative events would have a 12 percent increased chance of having a baby with elevated cord blood IgE," Peters said.
Wright pointed out that elevated IgE is "suggestive" of an increased risk of developing asthma and allergy later in life, but that the association isn't clear-cut and likely depends on exposure to other risk factors. The researchers will be following these children until they're 5 years old to see if they end up developing asthma and allergies later in life.
Dr. Ashlesha Dayal is a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center, and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albert Einstein Medical College in New York City. She said: "There's definitely emerging data that stress in pregnancy can affect the pregnancy in different ways; for example, stress has been linked to growth restriction, decreased bonding, and even preterm delivery. So, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that it would precipitate a disease that's triggered by stress."
But, added Dayal, "This is a small study that needs to be validated. We really need more numbers to verify this association."
Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital in Detroit, agreed. "This is an interesting study, but it hasn't demonstrated cause and effect. Maybe what goes on before birth can have long-lasting effects," she said, but added that she doesn't think this is something expectant mothers needed to be overly concerned about in most cases.
Wright said that, although the researchers aren't making specific recommenda
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