We aimed to examine whether exposure to prenatal stress following maternal bereavement is associated with an increased risk of febrile seizures. In a longitudinal population-based cohort study, we followed 1,431,175 children born in Denmark. A total of 34,777 children were born to women who lost a close relative during pregnancy or within 1 year before the pregnancy and they were included in the exposed group. The exposed children had a risk of febrile seizures similar to that of the unexposed children (hazard ratio (HR) 1.00, 95% CI 0.94–1.06). The HRs did not differ according to the nature or timing of bereavement. Our data do not suggest any causal link between exposure to prenatal stress and febrile seizures in childhood.
Prenatal stress; Bereavement; Febrile seizures; Fetal programming; Longitudinal study
Maternal stress in early life has been associated with the development of asthma in children, although it is unclear whether there are any critical periods of exposure. The association of asthma with prenatal exposure to maternal stress has not been reported.
We tested whether prenatal and postnatal anxiety and/or depression in pregnant women predicted the risk of their offspring developing asthma in childhood.
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children is a population-based birth cohort recruited during pregnancy. Data were available on maternal anxiety scores and asthma at age 7½ years in 5810 children. Anxiety was assessed at 18 and 32 weeks of gestation by using the validated Crown-Crisp Experiential Index. Asthma was defined at age 7½ years as doctor-diagnosed asthma with current symptoms or treatment in the previous 12 months. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the association of prenatal anxiety with asthma (odds ratio; 95% CI).
Independent of postnatal anxiety and adjusted for a number of likely confounders, there was a higher likelihood of asthma at age 7½ years (odds ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.25-2.17) in children of mothers in the highest compared with lowest quartile of anxiety scores at 32 weeks of gestation, with evidence for a dose-response (P value for trend <0.001).
Maternal anxiety symptoms as an indicator of stress during fetal life may program the development of asthma during childhood.
Anxiety; pregnancy; prenatal programming; asthma; child; ALSPAC, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children; HPA, Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal; OR, Odds ratio
Prenatal stress may increase the susceptibility to childhood cancer by affecting immune responses and hormonal balance. We examined whether antenatal stress following maternal bereavement increased the risk of childhood cancer.
All children born in Denmark from 1968 to 2007 (N=2 743 560) and in Sweden from 1973 to 2006 (N=3 400 212) were included in this study. We compared cancer risks in children born to women who lost a first-degree relative (a child, spouse, a parent, or a sibling) the year before pregnancy or during pregnancy with cancer risks in children of women who did not experience such bereavement.
A total of 9795 childhood cancer cases were observed during follow-up of 68 360 707 person years. Children born to women who lost a child or a spouse, but not those who lost other relatives, had an average 30% increased risk of any cancer (hazard ratio (HR) 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96–1.77). The HRs were the highest for non-Hodgkin disease (512 cases in total, HR 3.40, 95% CI 1.51–7.65), hepatic cancer (125 cases in total, HR 5.51, 95% CI 1.34–22.64), and testicular cancer (86 cases in total, HR 8.52, 95% CI 2.03–37.73).
Our data suggest that severe antenatal stress following maternal bereavement, especially due to loss of a child or a spouse, is associated with an increased risk of certain childhood cancers in the offspring, such as hepatic cancer and non-Hodgkin disease, but not with childhood cancer in general.
childhood cancer; bereavement; prenatal stress; mother; association
It has been suggested that prenatal stress contributes to the risk of obesity later in life. In a population–based cohort study, we examined whether prenatal stress related to maternal bereavement during pregnancy was associated with the risk of overweight in offspring during school age.
We followed 65,212 children born in Denmark from 1970–1989 who underwent health examinations from 7 to 13 years of age in public or private schools in Copenhagen. We identified 459 children as exposed to prenatal stress, defined by being born to mothers who were bereaved by death of a close family member from one year before pregnancy until birth of the child. We compared the prevalence of overweight between the exposed and the unexposed. Body mass index (BMI) values and prevalence of overweight were higher in the exposed children, but not significantly so until from 10 years of age and onwards, as compared with the unexposed children. For example, the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for overweight was 1.68 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08–2.61) at 12 years of age and 1.63 (95% CI 1.00–2.61) at 13 years of age. The highest ORs were observed when the death occurred in the period from 6 to 0 month before pregnancy (OR 3.31, 95% CI 1.71–6.42 at age 12, and OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.08–4.97 at age 13).
Our results suggest that severe pre-pregnancy stress is associated with an increased risk of overweight in the offspring in later childhood.
The etiology of type-2 diabetes is only partly known, and a possible role of prenatal stress in programming offspring for insulin resistance has been suggested by animal models. Previously, we found an association between prenatal stress and type-1 diabetes. Here we examine the association between prenatal exposure to maternal bereavement during preconception and pregnancy and development of type-2 diabetes in the off-spring.
We utilized data from the Danish Civil Registration System to identify singleton births in Denmark born January 1st 1979 through December 31st 2008 (N = 1,878,246), and linked them to their parents, grandparents, and siblings. We categorized children as exposed to bereavement during prenatal life if their mothers lost an elder child, husband or parent during the period from one year before conception to the child’s birth. We identified 45,302 children exposed to maternal bereavement; the remaining children were included in the unexposed cohort. The outcome of interest was diagnosis of type-2 diabetes. We estimated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) from birth using log-linear poisson regression models and used person-years as the offset variable. All models were adjusted for maternal residence, income, education, marital status, sibling order, calendar year, sex, and parents’ history of diabetes at the time of pregnancy.
We found children exposed to bereavement during their prenatal life were more likely to have a type-2 diabetes diagnosis later in life (aIRR: 1.31, 1.01–1.69). These findings were most pronounced when bereavement was caused by death of an elder child (aIRR: 1.51, 0.94–2.44). Results also indicated the second trimester of pregnancy to be the most sensitive period of bereavement exposure (aIRR:2.08, 1.15–3.76).
Our data suggests that fetal exposure to maternal bereavement during preconception and the prenatal period may increase the risk for developing type-2 diabetes in childhood and young adulthood.
Independent of current socioeconomic status (SES), past maternal SES might influence asthma outcomes in children.
We examined associations among the mother’s SES in the first 10 years of her life (maternal childhood SES), increased cord blood IgE levels (upper 20% [1.37 IU/mL]), and repeated wheeze (≥2 episodes by age 2 years) in an urban pregnancy cohort (n = 510).
Data on sociodemographics, discrimination, financial strain, community violence, interpersonal trauma, and other negative events were obtained prenatally. Prenatal household dust was assayed for cockroach and murine allergens, and traffic-related air pollution was estimated by using spatiotemporal land-use regression. Maternal childhood SES was defined by parental home ownership (birth to 10 years). Maternally reported child wheeze was ascertained at 3-month intervals from birth. Using structural equation models, we examined whether outcomes were dependent on maternal childhood SES directly versus indirect relationships operating through (1) cumulative SES-related adversities, (2) the mother’s socioeconomic trajectory (adult SES), and (3) current prenatal environmental exposures.
Mothers were largely Hispanic (60%) or black (28%), 37% had not completed high school, and 56% reported parental home ownership. When associations between low maternal childhood SES and repeated wheeze were examined, there were significant indirect effects operating through adult SES and prenatal cumulative stress (β = 0.28, P = .003) and pollution (β = 0.24, P = .004; P value for total indirect effects ≤ .04 for both pathways). Low maternal childhood SES was directly related to increased cord blood IgE levels (β = 0.21, P = .003). Maternal cumulative adversity (interpersonal trauma) was also associated with increased cord blood IgE levels (β = 0.19, P = .01), although this did not explain maternal childhood SES effects.
Lower maternal childhood SES was associated with increased cord blood IgE levels and repeated wheeze through both direct and indirect effects, providing new insights into the role of social inequalities as determinants of childhood respiratory risk.
Childhood socioeconomic status; intergenerational; cord blood IgE; inner-city; childhood wheeze; structural equation models; life course
Background: Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine-disrupting chemical that is routinely detected in > 90% of Americans, promotes experimental asthma in mice. The association of prenatal BPA exposure and wheeze has not been evaluated in humans.
Objective: We examined the relationship between prenatal BPA exposure and wheeze in early childhood.
Methods: We measured BPA concentrations in serial maternal urine samples from a prospective birth cohort of 398 mother–infant pairs and assessed parent-reported child wheeze every 6 months for 3 years. We used generalized estimating equations with a logit link to evaluate the association of prenatal urinary BPA concentration with the dichotomous outcome wheeze (wheeze over the previous 6 months).
Results: Data were available for 365 children; BPA was detected in 99% of maternal urine samples during pregnancy. In multivariable analysis, a one-unit increase in log-transformed creatinine-standardized mean prenatal urinary BPA concentration was not significantly associated with child wheeze from birth to 3 years of age, but there was an interaction of BPA concentration with time (p = 0.003). Mean prenatal BPA above versus below the median was positively associated with wheeze at 6 months of age [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.3; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.3, 4.1] but not at 3 years (AOR = 0.6; 95% CI: 0.3, 1.1). In secondary analyses evaluating associations of each prenatal BPA concentration separately, urinary BPA concentrations measured at 16 weeks gestation were associated with wheeze (AOR = 1.2; 95% CI: 1.0, 1.5), but BPA concentrations at 26 weeks of gestation or at birth were not.
Conclusions: Mean prenatal BPA was associated with increased odds of wheeze in early life, and the effect diminished over time. Evaluating exposure at each prenatal time point demonstrated an association between wheeze from 6 months to 3 years and log-transformed BPA concentration at 16 weeks gestation only.
bisphenol A; BPA; child; cotinine; prenatal; tobacco; wheeze
Childhood cancer is a leading cause of child deaths in affluent countries, but little is known about its aetiology. Psychological stress has been suggested to be associated with cancer in adults; whether this is also seen in childhood cancer is largely unknown. We investigated the association between bereavement as an indicator of severe childhood stress exposure and childhood cancer, using data from Danish and Swedish national registers.
Population-based cohort study.
Denmark and Sweden.
All live-born children born in Denmark between 1968 and 2007 (n=2 729 308) and in Sweden between 1973 and 2006 (n=3 395 166) were included in this study. Exposure was bereavement by the death of a close relative before 15 years of age. Follow-up started from birth and ended at the first of the following: date of a cancer diagnosis, death, emigration, day before their 15th birthday or end of follow-up (2007 in Denmark, 2006 in Sweden).
Rates and HRs for all childhood cancers and specific childhood cancers.
A total of 1 505 938 (24.5%) children experienced bereavement at some point during their childhood and 9823 were diagnosed with cancer before the age of 15 years. The exposed children had a small (10%) increased risk of childhood cancer (HR 1.10; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.17). For specific cancers, a significant association was seen only for central nervous system tumours (HR 1.14; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.28).
Our data suggest that psychological stress in early life is associated with a small increased risk of childhood cancer.
Childhood cancer; bereavement; psychological stress; risk factor; follow up
It has been proposed that maternal obesity during pregnancy may increase the risk that the child develops allergic disease and asthma, although the mechanisms underpinning this relationship are currently unclear. We sought to assess if this association may be due to confounding by genetic or environmental risk factors that are common to maternal obesity and childhood asthma, using a sibling pair analysis.
The study population comprised a Swedish national cohort of term children born between 1992 and 2008 to native Swedish parents. Maternal body mass index (BMI) was measured at 8–10 weeks gestation. Unconditional logistic regression models were used to determine if maternal obesity was associated with increased risk of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) in 431,718 first-born children, while adjusting for potential confounders. An age-matched discordant sib-pair analysis was performed, taking into account shared genetic and environmental risk factors.
Maternal over-weight and obesity were associated with increased risk that the child would require ICS (for BMI≥35 kg/m2, aOR = 1.30, 95%CI = 1.10–1.52 compared with normal weight mothers) in children aged 6–12 years. Similar effects were seen in younger children, but in children aged 13–16 years, maternal obesity (BMI≥30) was related to increased risk of ICS use in girls (aOR = 1.28, 95%CI = 1.07–1.53) but not boys (OR = 1.05, 95%CI = 0.87–1.26). The sib-pair analysis, which included 2,034 sib-pairs older than six years who were discordant for both ICS use and maternal BMI category, failed to find any evidence that increasing maternal weight was related to increased risk of ICS use.
Maternal obesity is associated with increased risk of childhood ICS use up to approximately 12 years of age, but only in girls after this age. These effects could not be confirmed in a sib pair analysis, suggesting either limited statistical power, or the effects of maternal BMI may be due to shared genetic or environmental risk factors.
One of the mechanisms supposed to explain the increasing prevalence of asthma, among children in particular, is the use of antibiotics because they may modify natural microbial exposure and development of the immune system in early childhood. The aim of this study is to investigate the association between the use of various classes of antibiotics (penicillin, cephalosporin and macrolide derivatives) in early childhood and the medical diagnosis of asthma or wheezing reported by mothers over the follow-up after adjustment for potential confounders and respiratory infections. In a population-based sample of 5-year-olds, a part of the ongoing birth cohort study, the standardized interviews on health outcomes, potential confounders (child’s gender, maternal atopy, parity, prenatal and postnatal environmental tobacco smoke) and the use of antibiotics were gathered from mothers of 310 children. While the overall use of antibiotics during the early childhood was insignificantly associated with asthma (adjusted OR = 1.65, 95%CI: 0.93 – 2.93), the risk estimates were significant both for macrolide antibiotics (adjusted OR=2.14, 95%CI: 1.16–3.95) and cephalosporins (OR=1.98, 95%CI: 1.14–3.37). The significant excess in IRR (incident risk ratio) of wheezing episodes was related only to the use of macrolide antibiotics (adjusted IRR=1.91, 95%CI: 1.12–3.27). The use of other classes of antibiotics was found not to be associated with the medical diagnosis of asthma or wheezing episodes recorded in the study period. Conclusion: as early childhood use of broad spectrum antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of developing asthma in 5-year-olds, it may be hypothesized that the antibiotic- related suppression of allergic inflammatory responses in the course of treatment may later lead to greater than before atopic immune response in Th2 children or an impairment of Th1 immune responses in early childhood.
antibiotics; asthma; childhood; wheezing; Th1 immune responses; allergic reactions
Studies have shown diverse strength of evidence for the associations between air pollutants and childhood asthma, but these associations have scarcely been documented in the early life. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impacts of various air pollutants on the development of asthma phenotypes in the first year of life.
Adjusted odds ratios were estimated to assess the relationships between exposures to air pollutants and single and multi-dimensional asthma phenotypes in the first year of life in children of the EDEN mother-child cohort study (n = 1,765 mother-child pairs). The Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) model was used to determine the associations between prenatal maternal smoking and in utero exposure to traffic-related air pollution and asthma phenotypes (data were collected when children were at birth, and at 4, 8 and 12 months of age). Adjusted Population Attributable Risk (aPAR) was estimated to measure the impacts of air pollutants on health outcomes.
In the first year of life, both single and multi-dimensional asthma phenotypes were positively related to heavy parental smoking, traffic-related air pollution and dampness, but negatively associated with contact with cats and domestic wood heating. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for traffic-related air pollution were the highest [1.71 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.08-2.72) for ever doctor-diagnosed asthma, 1.44 (95% CI: 1.05-1.99) for bronchiolitis with wheezing, 2.01 (95% CI: 1.23-3.30) for doctor-diagnosed asthma with a history of bronchiolitis]. The aPARs based on these aORs were 13.52%, 9.39%, and 17.78%, respectively. Results persisted for prenatal maternal smoking and in utero exposure to traffic-related air pollution, although statistically significant associations were observed only with the asthma phenotype of ever bronchiolitis.
After adjusting for potential confounders, traffic-related air pollution in utero life and in the first year of life, had a greater impact on the development of asthma phenotypes compared to other factors.
Environment; Traffic-related air pollution; Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS); Pets; Moulds; Asthma; Children
Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are preferred first-line controller agents for adults and adolescents with asthma. There is limited effectiveness data comparing ICS to leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRA) in children with asthma aged 4 to 11 years.
A retrospective, matched cohort study was conducted using medical and pharmacy claims data. Asthma patients (ICD-9, 493.xx) naïve to any asthma controller therapy, and having ≥1 dispensing of fluticasone propionate 44 mcg (FP44), an ICS, or montelukast any dose (MON), an LTRA, were identified. Drug cohorts were matched (1:2) using propensity scores. Outcomes during follow-up included asthma-related ED visits, composite measure of asthma-related ED/hospital visit, asthma-related costs per month, and monthly rescue medication use. Statistical differences between cohorts were evaluated using multivariate regression models.
The final matched sample included 6,636 patients (FP44=2,212; MON=4,424). During follow-up, the FP44 cohort had a 29% significantly lower risk of an asthma-related ED visit (Hazard ratio (95% CI) =0.71 (0.52, 0.96)) compared to the MON cohort. Monthly asthma-related costs were significantly reduced on average by 36% in the FP44 compared to the MON cohort ($48 vs $75, p<0.05). Use of short-acting beta-agonists per month were similar between cohorts but monthly adjusted number of oral corticosteroid prescriptions were significantly lower in the FP44 compared to the MON cohort (0.03 vs 0.04, p<0.001).
Initiation of FP44 versus MON in children with asthma aged 4 to 11 years is associated with a significant reduction in asthma-related ED visits, costs, and oral corticosteroid use.
Asthma; pediatrics; inhaled corticosteroids; leukotriene; receptor antagonists; outcomes; costs.
The high prevalence of children's asthma symptoms, worldwide, is unexplained. We examined the relation between maternal pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI), and asthma symptoms in adolescents.
Data from 6945 adolescents born within the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 were used. Prospective antenatal and birth outcome data, including maternal pre-pregnancy weight and BMI, and asthma symptoms in adolescent offspring at age 15–16 years, were employed. Logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the associations between relevant prenatal factors and asthma symptoms during adolescence.
Current wheeze (within the past year) was reported by 10.6% of adolescents, and physician-diagnosed asthma by 6.0%. High maternal pre-pregnancy BMI was a significant predictor of wheeze in the adolescents (increase per kilogram per square metre unit; 2.7%, 95% CI 0.9 to 4.4 for ever wheeze; 3.5%, 95% CI 1.3 to 5.8 for current wheeze), and adjusting for potential confounders further increased the risk (2.8%, 95% CI 0.5 to 5.1; 4.7%, 95% CI 1.9 to 7.7, respectively). High maternal pre-pregnancy weight, in the top tertile, also significantly increased the odds of current wheeze in the adolescent by 20% (95% CI 4 to 39), and adjusting for potential confounders further increased the risk (OR=1.52, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.95). Results were similar for current asthma. Furthermore, these significant associations were observed only among adolescents without parental history of atopy but not among those with parental history of atopy.
The association demonstrated here between maternal pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity, and asthma symptoms in adolescents suggests that increase in asthma may be partly related to the rapid rise in obesity in recent years.
Asthma; wheeze; prevalence; adolescent; maternal pre-pregnancy weight; BMI; obesity
Examination of intergenerational asthma beyond maternal asthma has been limited. The association between childhood asthma and intergenerational asthma status among a national cohort of children was examined.
The genealogical sample (2,552 children) participating in the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Multivariate regression was used to determine intergenerational asthma.
Children with a parent with asthma were almost twice as likely (OR=1.96) to have asthma compared to those without a parent with asthma. Children with a parent and grandparent with asthma were over four times more likely to have asthma compared to those without a parent and grandparent with asthma (OR=4.27). Children with a grandparent with asthma were more likely to have asthma (OR=1.52).
A family history of asthma was a significant predictor of physician diagnosed asthma in children regardless of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Findings support the collection of family history, including grandparent asthma status.
asthma; intergenerational; panel study
The effect of breastfeeding on asthma is controversial, which may be explained by related and interacting early childhood risk factors. We assessed the joint effects of a risk-triad consisting of maternal smoking during pregnancy, breastfeeding for less than 3 months, and recurrent lower respiratory tract infections (RLRTI) on physician-diagnosed childhood asthma. The association was assessed in the Isle of Wight birth cohort study (1989–1990) using a repeated measurement approach with data collection at birth, and at ages 1, 2, 4, and 10 years. The population consists of 1,456 children recruited between January 1989 and February 1990. Prenatal smoking, breastfeeding for less than 3 months, and recurrent lower respiratory infections (RLRTI) were combined into eight risk-triads. Relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals were estimated with a log-linear model. The risk-triad involving RLRTI in infancy, maternal smoking during pregnancy, and breastfeeding for less than 3 months showed a stronger association with asthma at ages 4 and 10 compared to other risk-triads (RR of 5.79 for any asthma at ages 1, 2, 4, and 10; and 3.1 for asthma at ages 4 and 10). Of the three individual risk factors, RLRTI appeared to be the major driver of the combined effects in the risk-triads. The effect of RLRTI on asthma was modified by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding for ≥3 months also attenuated the effect of prenatal smoking on asthma in children without RLRTI. A high proportion of asthma cases in childhood can be prevented by promoting breastfeeding, by preventing smoking during pregnancy, and by avoidance of recurrent lower respiratory tract infections in early childhood.
asthma; cohort study; breastfeeding; smoking; child; lower respiratory tract infections
While some evidence suggests that antigen sensitization may begin prenatally, the influence of maternal allergen exposure during pregnancy has not been fully elucidated.
We examined the relationship between prenatal maternal aeroallergen exposure and cord blood total immunoglobulin E (IgE) and the potential mediating/indirect effect of maternal immune response.
This study was performed in 301 mother-infant pairs enrolled in the Asthma Coalition on Community, Environment, and Social Stress (ACCESS) project, a study examining the effects of prenatal and early life social and physical environmental exposures on urban asthma risk. Dust samples collected prenatally from mothers’ bedrooms were analyzed for cockroach and dust mite allergens. Cord blood was analyzed for total IgE and maternal serum collected during pregnancy for total and specific IgE. We assessed the relationship between prenatal exposure and cord blood total IgE and the potential mediation effect adjusting for maternal age, race, education, smoking status and dust collection season; and child’s gender and season of birth.
In multivariate models, elevated prenatal dust mite levels (> 0.2 µg/g) increased cord blood IgE concentrations by 29% (p=0.08) and continuous dust mite concentration was associated with a significant non-linear increase in cord blood IgE (p=0.02). Elevated prenatal exposure to cockroach allergen (> 2 U/g) was not associated with cord blood IgE, but showed a significant indirect relationship through maternal total IgE (β=0.23; 95% CI: 0.08, 0.41).
These results demonstrate that maternal prenatal exposure to household allergens may impact cord blood IgE albeit the underlying mechanism may be allergen-specific.
Maternal prenatal inhalant allergen exposure may precipitate infant immune response although the pathway of the effect may differ by allergen.
Prenatal exposure to dust mite was associated with increased cord blood total IgE whereas the relationship between prenatal cockroach exposure and total cord blood IgE was only observed through the indirect effect of maternal allergic response.
Allergen; Dust Mite; Cockroach; Maternal; Prenatal; Cord Blood; Immunoglobulin E; IgE; Urban
Studies exploring the relationship between prenatal vitamin D exposure and childhood asthma have yielded conflicting results. Higher vitamin D intake during pregnancy has been shown to lower the risk of childhood wheeze, yet a study of maternal late-pregnancy serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D suggested higher serum concentrations may be associated with increased childhood asthma.
To assess the relationship between mothers’ serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and asthma and wheeze phenotypes in their children at age 6 years. Secondly, to explore the relationship between maternal 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and objective measures of childhood atopy and lung function.
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was measured at 34 weeks’ gestation in the mothers of 860 children born at term. Wheeze was classified as either transient or persistent/late using questionnaire data collated from 6, 12, 24 and 36 months and 6 years. At 6 years spirometry was performed and atopic status was determined by skin prick testing, exhaled nitric oxide was measured in 451 and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in 216 children.
There were no significant associations between maternal late-pregnancy 25-hydroxyvitamin D status and either asthma or wheeze at age 6 years. Maternal vitamin D status was not associated with transient or persistent/late wheeze; no significant association was found between persistent/late wheeze when subdivided according to atopic status. No associations were found with skin sensitisation or lung function.
This study provides no evidence that exposure to higher concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in maternal serum during late pregnancy increases the risk of childhood asthma, wheeze or atopy.
asthma epidemiology; asthma; paediatric asthma
To examine whether prenatal occupational exposures, especially to organic solvents, are associated with atopic diseases in childhood.
The study comprised children born in Odense or Aalborg, Denmark between 1984 and 1987. Occupational job titles were derived from questionnaires filled out by the mothers when attending midwife centres. Assessment of organic solvent exposures was based on job titles selected by occupational specialists. A follow up questionnaire to the parents provided data on medical diagnoses as well as wheezing symptoms for 7844 children aged 14–18. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to estimate the cumulative risk for wheezing (early wheezing not diagnosed as asthma), asthma, hay fever, and atopic eczema during childhood by means of odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Explorative analyses by maternal job titles in pregnancy showed elevated odds ratios concerning different atopic diseases for occupational groups such as “bakers, pastry cooks, and confectionary makers”, “dental assistants”, “electrical and electronic assemblers”, “sewers and embroiders”, and “bookbinders and related workers”. An excess risk ratio for hay fever (OR 2.8, CI 1.1 to 7.5) was found following maternal gestational exposure to organic solvents. Furthermore, a slightly raised odds ratio for asthma was observed in children of shift workers (OR 1.2, CI 1.0 to 1.5).
The data suggest links between certain maternal occupations during pregnancy and atopic diseases, which merits further scrutiny. However, no consistent pattern was seen across the different atopic diseases.
solvents; prenatal exposure delayed effects; hypersensitivity
Asthma is a complex disease characterized by sex-specific differences in incidence, prevalence and severity, but little is known about the molecular basis of these sex differences. Objective: To investigate the genetic architecture of sex differences in asthma risk, we evaluated i) associations between polymorphisms in the interferon-gamma (IFNG) gene and childhood onset asthma in combined and sex-specific samples, and ii) interactions between polymorphisms and sex on asthma risk.
Main and sex-interaction effects of IFNG genetic diversity on asthma risk and IFN-γ levels were examined in a birth cohort of children at high risk for asthma and allergic diseases. Replication of the genetic association was assessed in an independent sample of asthma cases.
Significant genotype-by-sex interactions on asthma were observed for two IFNG SNPs, rs2069727 and rs2430561, which were in strong linkage disequilibrium with each other. In contrast, none of the ten IFNG SNPs showed significant main effects on asthma. The observed genotype-by-sex interaction on asthma was characterized by non-additivity, i.e. heterozygote boys had the highest risk for asthma, while heterozygote girls had the lowest risk. The interaction effect was robust to other asthma risk factors but was limited to children who experienced wheezing illnesses with viral infections during the first three years of life. Genotype-by-sex interactions were also observed in IFN-γ response to LPS in the first year of life. Finally, the sex interaction effect was replicated in an independent population of childhood asthma cases.
These results provide insight into the genetic basis of sex differences in asthma and highlight the potential importance of interactions among sex, genotype, and environmental factors in asthma pathogenesis.
IFN-γ; asthma; children; sex differences; single nucleotide polymorphism; association study
Prior research has linked maternal prenatal and postnatal mental health with the subsequent development of asthma in children. However, this relationship has not been examined in inner-city African Americans and Hispanics, populations at high risk for asthma.
To determine the relationship of maternal demoralization with wheeze, specific wheeze phenotypes, and seroatopy among children living in a low-income, urban community.
African American and Dominican women aged 18 to 35 years residing in New York City (the Bronx and Northern Manhattan) were recruited during pregnancy (n = 279). Maternal demoralization (ie, psychological distress) was measured both prenatally and postnatally by validated questionnaire. Outcomes included wheeze, transient (birth to 2.5 years of age), late onset (3–5 years), and persistent (birth to 5 years of age), evaluated via questionnaire and total and indoor allergen specific IgE (at birth and ages 2, 3, and 5 years). Logistic regression with generalized estimating equations assessed the association of demoralization with wheeze and atopy. Multinomial regression explored associations between demoralization and specific wheeze phenotypes.
Prenatal demoralization significantly predicted overall wheeze (adjusted odds ratio OR, 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29 –2.14), transient wheeze (OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.34 –3.76), and persistent wheeze (OR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.52– 4.77). No association was found between demoralization and IgE after adjustment (total IgE: OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.74 –1.45; any specific IgE: OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.57–1.60).
In this inner-city cohort, prenatal demoralization was associated with transient and persistent wheeze. Understanding how maternal demoralization influences children’s respiratory health may be important for developing effective interventions among disadvantaged populations.
Obesity and asthma have increased in westernised countries. Maternal obesity may increase childhood asthma risk. If this relation is causal it may be mediated through factors associated with maternal adiposity, such as fetal development, pregnancy complications or infant adiposity. We investigated the relationships of maternal BMI and fat mass with childhood wheeze and examined the influences of infant weight gain and childhood obesity.
Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and estimated fat mass (from skinfold thicknesses) were related to asthma, wheeze and atopy in 940 children. Transient or persistent/late wheeze was classified using questionnaire data collected at ages 6, 12, 24 and 36 months and 6 years. At 6 years, skin prick testing was conducted and exhaled nitric oxide and spirometry measured. Infant adiposity gain was calculated from skinfold thickness at birth and 6 months.
Greater maternal BMI and fat mass were associated with increased childhood wheeze (RR 1.08 per 5 kg m−2, p=0.006; RR 1.09 per 10 kg, p=0.003); these reflected associations with transient wheeze (RR 1.11, p=0.003; RR 1.13, p=0.002, respectively) but not with persistent wheeze or asthma. Infant adiposity gain was associated with persistent wheeze but not significantly. Adjusting for infant adiposity gain or BMI at 3 or 6 years did not reduce the association between maternal adiposity and transient wheeze. Maternal adiposity was not associated with offspring atopy, exhaled nitric oxide, or spirometry.
Greater maternal adiposity is associated with transient wheeze but not asthma or atopy, suggesting effects upon airway structure/function but not allergic predisposition.
adiposity; body mass index; obesity; asthma; allergic sensitisation
BACKGROUND—Apart from heredity, several early life environmental factors are implicated in the development of childhood asthma. Maternal smoking is believed to increase asthmatic symptoms but its influence on the development of allergen sensitisation is debatable.
STUDY DESIGN—A whole population birth cohort was reviewed at ages 1, 2, and 4 years. Of 1218 children seen at 4 years, 981 (80.5%) were skin prick tested with a battery of common food and aeroallergens. Smoking history was recorded at birth and updated at each follow up and its impact on the development of asthma and allergen sensitisation in the children was assessed.
RESULTS—Two hundred and fifty mothers smoked during pregnancy (20.5%) and 307 (25.2%) after childbirth. Maternal smoking in pregnancy was associated with low birth weight (mean (SD): 3.3 (0.5) v 3.5 (0.5) kg; p<0.001). Smoking mothers were more often from lower social classes (31.8% v 16%, p<0.001) and they breast fed their babies for a shorter duration (8.5 (11.4) v 16.6 (15.2) weeks; p<0.001). The difference in breast feeding duration was partly due to a higher proportion of smoking mothers who never breast fed their babies. Although at age 2 years asthmatic symptoms were associated with exposure to maternal tobacco smoke (odds ratio 2.2, 95% confidence interval 1.5 to 3.4; p<0.001), this association was lost by 4 years. However, maternal smoking was a significant risk factor in a subgroup of children with asthmatic symptoms but negative skin prick test. Maternal smoking did not increase allergen sensitisation at age 4 years. No effect of paternal smoking on asthma was observed in the children.
Keywords: maternal smoking; asthma; allergen sensitisation
The prevalence of asthma in industrialized countries has been increasing dramatically and asthma is now the most common chronic disease of children in the United States. The rapidity of the increase strongly suggests that changes in environmental exposures are the likely cause of this epidemic. Further, the early onset of allergic manifestations suggests that these exposures may act on the prenatal development of the immune system. We have focused on the potential effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical pollutant with one of the largest productions, on the development of childhood asthma. We have reported that perinatal BPA exposure promotes the development of allergic asthma in a mouse model. The current study was designed to identify a critical period of BPA exposure and to begin elucidating the mechanisms for this susceptibility.
Female BALB/c mice received 10 micro g/ml BPA in their drinking water from one week before pregnancy until the end of the study. Some of the pups were transferred in the first 48 h of life from their BPA-loaded mother to an unexposed mother, or vice versa. Half of the pups were sensitized with a low dose of the experimental allergen ovalbumin (OVA), the rest received PBS as an unsensitized controls. On day 22, the pups were challenged by inhalations of ovalbumin or PBS followed by quantification of eosinophils in and hyperreactivity of their airways, major indicators of experimental asthma in this classical mouse model. Hepatic expression of two isoforms of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (Ugt) was quantified by quantitative RT-PCR at various ages.
Pups exposed to BPA in utero and through breast milk, or in utero only, displayed an asthma phenotype in response to their "suboptimal" allergic sensitization, whereas, pups only exposed to BPA postnatally from breast milk, did not. The expression of Ugt2b1, an isoform related to BPA clearance in rats, was not detectable in mouse fetuses and newborn pups, but increased by day 5 and approached adult levels by day 25.
Prenatal exposures that produce environmentally relevant burdens of BPA, followed by postnatal allergic sensitization and challenges, promote the development of experimental allergic asthma. Delayed expression of BPA-metabolizing enzymes may explain, at least in part, the enhanced fetal susceptibility to this common environmental contaminant.
Animal model; Asthma; Bisphenol A; BPA; Environmental estrogen; Enzyme; Fetal exposure; Metabolism; Ovalbumin; Ugt2b1
Rationale: Factors predicting the development of wheeze may differ between sexes and between childhood and adolescence. Methods: A New Zealand birth cohort of 1,037 children was followed to age 26. For this analysis, those reporting recurrent wheezing at two or more assessments were classified as “wheezers.” We examined risk factors for development of wheeze before age 10 (childhood) and subsequently (adolescent-onset) for males and for females separately using Cox regression modeling. Results: Males more often developed childhood wheeze (p = 0.002) and females adolescent-onset wheeze (p < 0.001). Maternal atopy (asthma or hay fever) was a risk factor for childhood wheeze in both sexes (hazard ratio [HR], 1.48, p < 0.05 for males; HR, 2.37, p < 0.001 for females). Paternal atopy also influenced childhood wheeze, significantly for males (HR, 1.72; p = 0.01), and similarly but not significantly for females (HR, 1.70; p = 0.08). For adolescent-onset wheeze, neither maternal (HR, 1.41; p = 0.19) nor paternal history (HR, 0.73; p = 0.42) was a risk factor in males, but maternal history (HR, 2.08; p < 0.01) was a significant risk factor for females. When both age ranges were combined, providing greater power for analysis, paternal history was a stronger risk factor for wheeze in females (HR, 1.62; p = 0.02) than in males (HR, 1.35; p = 0.12). Conclusion: The influence of parental atopy on the development for wheeze differs between males and females and between childhood- and adolescent-onset wheeze.
age of onset; asthma; parental history; risk factors; sex
Parental, particularly maternal, smoking increases the risk of childhood allergic asthma and infection. Similarly, in a murine allergic asthma model, prenatal plus early postnatal exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke (SS) exacerbates airway hyperreactivity and Th2 responses in the lung. However, the mechanism and contribution of prenatal versus early postnatal SS exposure on allergic asthma remains unresolved. To identify the effects of prenatal and/or early postnatal SS on allergic asthma, BALB/c dams and their offspring were exposed gestationally and/or 8–10 weeks post-birth to filtered air or SS. Prenatal, but not postnatal SS strongly increased methacholine and allergen (Aspergillus)-induced airway resistance, Th2-cytokines levels and atopy, and activated the Th2 polarizing pathway GATA3/Lck/ERK1/2/STAT6. Either prenatal and/or early postnatal SS downregulated the Th1-specific transcription factor T-bet and, surprisingly, in spite of high levels of IL-4/IL-13, dramatically blocked the allergen-induced mucous cell metaplasia, airway mucus formation, and the expression of mucus-related genes/proteins: Muc5ac, GABAA-receptors, and SPDEF. Given that SS/nicotine exposure of normal adult mice promotes mucus formation, the results suggest that fetal and neonatal lung are highly sensitive to cigarette smoke. Thus, while the gestational SS promotes Th2 polarization/allergic asthma, it may also impair and/or delay the development of fetal and neonatal lung, affecting mucociliary clearance and Th1 responses. Together, this may explain the increased susceptibility of children from smoking parents to allergic asthma and childhood respiratory infections.
Environmental (secondhand) tobacco smoke; airways hyperreactivity; allergic asthma; Th2 polarization; airway mucus