Results from a study recently published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology showed that systemic inflammation in at-risk mothers during pregnancy may be indicative of a prenatal environment that could increase a child’s risk for asthma and wheezing early in life.
“Our research suggests a relationship between maternal inflammation and fetal immune development that may lead to childhood asthma,” said Brittany Lapin, PhD, MPH, a statistician at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois, in a recent news release. “Interestingly, this relationship may be stronger in children who have a lower risk for developing asthma.”
Research in asthma has been mainly focused on postnatal exposures, however, there are indications from recent studies showing that atopic immune responses might be initiated in utero. Systemic inflammation during pregnancy may be indicative of an environment that could increase predisposition in the child to develop allergic disease.
To address this question, in the study titled “Relationship between in utero C-reactive protein levels and asthma in at-risk children,” Brittany Lapin from the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago in Chicago, Illinois and colleagues examine the association of systemic inflammation, assessed by the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) with wheezing and asthma in a cohort of offspring within an at-risk. Mexicans mostly comprised the study population.
Data was retrieved from the Peer Education in Pregnancy Study between1998 and 2009. A total of 244 mother–child pairs with an average maternal age of 25.7 years and a median prenatal C-reactive protein (CRP) level of 4.9 mg/L were included in the study.
Results showed that continuous prenatal CRP levels were predictive of asthma by year 3 and wheezing in year 3. The analysis also revealed that the associations were still significant in those mothers from a Mexican background and that were non-smokers, indicating that effects might be stronger in children at lower risk of disease.
“In this study, Mexican children with mothers who do not smoke were at a lower risk of developing asthma by age 3,” Lapin said. “More research is necessary in this area before any suggestions can be made for pregnant women.”