“Approximately 70 percent of mothers who said they experienced high levels of anxiety or depression while they were pregnant reported their child had wheezed before age 5,” said Marilyn Reyes, lead author of the study. “Understanding how maternal depression affects a child’s respiratory health is important in developing effective interventions.”
The study of 279 inner-city African-American and Hispanic women was conducted before, during pregnancy and after birth.
The study results support growing research that the prenatal period is a time when children are particularly susceptible to asthma-related risks. While somewhat similar findings have been reported in non-minority populations, this study at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health is the first to report an association between stress and wheeze in minority populations.
“The symptoms of pediatric asthma can range from a nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden and scary breathing emergencies,” said allergist Rachel Miller, MD, study senior author. “With the right treatment, your child can sleep through the night, avoid missing time from day care or preschool, and breathe easy.”
Common asthma symptoms include:
Wheezing or whistling sound, especially when breathing out
Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
Coughing, especially at night
Frequent colds that settle in the chest