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Int J Epidemiol. 1999 Aug;28(4):723-7.

Maternal infections in pregnancy and the development of asthma among offspring.

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  • 1Unit of Environmental Epidemiology, National Public Health Institute, Kuopio, Finland.



Previous studies have suggested that asthma phenotype could probably be programmed before birth. The current study examined the impact of maternal vaginitis and febrile infections during pregnancy on the subsequent development of asthma among children.


The analyses were based on 8088 children from the northern Finland birth cohort, 1985-1986.


The prevalence of asthma at age 7 was 3.5%. Children had a higher risk of asthma if their mothers experienced vaginitis and febrile infections during pregnancy, odds ratio (OR) = 1.41, (95% CI: 1.08-1.84) and 1.65 (95% CI: 1.25-2.18), respectively, after adjusting for other covariates. There was a clear time trend in risk of childhood asthma corresponding to the timing of maternal febrile infections in pregnancy. The adjusted OR for the first, second and third trimesters were 2.08 (95% CI: 1.13-3.82), 1.73 (95% CI: 1.09-2.75) and 1.44 (95% CI: 0.97-2.15), respectively. Maternal history of allergic diseases, birthweight <2500 g and male gender also seemed to be risk factors for childhood asthma.


Our results suggest that further investigation of the relation of maternal infections during pregnancy to asthma among children seems warranted.

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