Pollen Exposure and Asthma

It’s well established that there’s a connection between certain allergies and asthma in children, but new research takes the connection a step further: It suggests that a mother’s exposure to pollen during pregnancy may play a role in childhood asthma.

Researchers at Sweden’s Umea University studied data gleaned from more than 100,000 pregnancies and births in the Stockholm area. They found when women were exposed to heavy amounts of pollen during the last 12 weeks of their pregnancies asthma hospitalization rates for their offspring were especially high.  (The analysis was adjusted for exacerbating factors such as smoking and fluctuations in seasonal pollen rates.)

Researchers have several theories on why asthma rates seem to be higher in children born to these mothers: One possibility is that the exposure somehow triggers an immune system reaction in the infant in utero. Or, they suggested it’s also possible that pregnant women who have a severe reaction to asthma may suffer complications that can impact their children such as premature births; a known risk factor in childhood asthma.

They said further research into the cause-and-effect relationship is warranted.