Posted by: Ticktock | May 26, 2008

Asthma’s Maternal Origins?


Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition in which the airways are constricted, enflamed, and filled with mucus.  Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, tight chest, and coughing.  1 in 4 urban children have asthma and it affects 6.2 million children in the U.S.  Air pollution, cigarette smoke, car fumes, and allergens are the common triggers for asthma.  The origin of asthma is debatable, but thought to be immunological, environmental, and genetic.

Asthma can not be cured by chiropractic manipulations or manual therapies, acupuncture, homeopathy, or air ionisers.  The most common and effective cure is glucocorticoid steroid inhalers, but they also have a host of side effects that parents should fully understand.

Three studies have recently emerged focusing on whether a child’s asthma can be traced to a stressful pregnancy, to birth by c-section, and to breastfeeding.  Scientists seem to be blaming Mom for the current asthma epidemic sweeping the globe.  I suspect other factors are likely involved, but I’ll list here the maternal factors detected by the latest studies.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that children of mothers with stressful pregnancies were on average 12% more likely to have asthma.  The stressful issues that were most reported were concerned with finances, health, relationships, and community safety.  It seems to me that such problems come hand-in-hand with other problems, and that the pregnancy stress may be a red herring – perhaps that was factored into the results.   The study is part of the Asthma Coalition on Community, Environment and Social Stress (ACCESS) project that is trying to determine why urban children are much more likely to develop asthma.  These are only preliminary results – many of the children are not even old enough to have asthma. 

A new study by Ngoc Ly of the University of California confirmed that children born by c-section are more likely to have asthma.  This study revealed the possible biological reason for the asthma- a reduction in repressed T-cell function in C-section babies.  More study needs to be done to determine why vaginally born babies have a higher immune system, but this is information to consider when volunteering for surgical delivery.

Finally, Dr. Theresa Guilbert did research examining the longitudinal Children Respiratory Study in Tuscon, Arizona.  She reluctantly discovered that asthmatic mothers who breastfed for durations longer than four months had children with weaker lungs.  The data showed that the lung function of teenagers who were breastfed at length as babies had on average a 6% reduction in lung function than others who didn’t breastfeed for so long.  Important side note, non-asthmatic mothers who breastfed longer had children who showed an opposite result; they were more likely to have stronger lungs.





  1. * UPDATE *

    A first-born child is much more likely to have asthma according to a team at University of South Carolina.

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