Expectant mothers who eschew asthma treatment during pregnancy heighten the risk transmitting the condition to their offspring, according to one of the largest studies of its kind published in the European Respiratory Journal.
A research team from the Université de Montréal, the Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal and Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center found that 32.6 percent of children born to mothers who neglected to treat their asthma during pregnancy developed the respiratory illness themselves.
"Uncontrolled maternal asthma during pregnancy could trigger a transient yet important reaction in the fetus that affects lung development and could subsequently increase the likelihood of a baby developing asthma in later childhood," warns lead author Dr. Lucie Blais, a professor at the Université de Montréal's Faculty of Pharmacy and researcher at the Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal.
As part of the study, the research team examined a decade of health records for 8,226 children – from birth to 10 years of age – born to asthmatic mothers. Parents of these children were also mailed questionnaires requesting additional facts concerning familial medical history, lifestyle habits and environment.
"We found that failing to control maternal asthma during pregnancy clearly has an impact on asthma in offspring – a consequence that is independent of other contributing factors," says Dr. Blais. "It is of great importance for physicians to adequately treat asthmatic mothers during pregnancy, not only for the favourable outcome of pregnancy but also for the benefit of the child."
The article was authored by Marie-Josée Martel, Évelyne Rey, Marie-France Beauchesne, Jean-Luc Malo, Sylvie Perreault, Amélie Forget and Lucie Blais of the Université de Montréal and its affiliated Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal.
This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec.
- Martel et al. Control and severity of asthma during pregnancy are associated with asthma incidence in offspring: two-stage case-control study. European Respiratory Journal, 2009; 34 (3): 579 DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00074608
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