Colds, allergies during pregnancy may affect child’s later health

The more colds a woman has while pregnant, the greater the likelihood that her child will develop asthma, according to a study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The study also found a link between allergy flare-ups during pregnancy and a child’s risk for allergic conditions later in life.

“We know that allergy and asthma can develop in the womb since genetics play a factor in both diseases,” said Michael Foggs, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “But this study sheds light about how a mother’s environment during pregnancy can begin affecting the child before birth.”

About the study

The study, conducted in Germany, involved 513 pregnant women and the 526 children born from those pregnancies.

Researchers questioned the parents throughout the pregnancy and up until the children were 5 years old on multiple topics, including the hygiene practices in the home, smoking, pet ownership, family history of allergies or asthma, and the child’s health. Mothers also answered questions about any illnesses they had during pregnancy.

The researchers found that children born to mothers with both a history of allergies and who had allergy symptoms during pregnancy had an increased risk of developing atopic dermatitis (an allergic skin condition) and allergic rhinitis (recurring, often seasonal allergies such as hay fever) by age 5.

In addition, children born to women who had repeated bouts of the common cold during pregnancy were at increased risk of developing asthma by age 5.

The take-home message
Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should talk to their doctor about allergies and asthma, and discuss strategies for staying healthy during pregnancy.

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