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Clin Exp Allergy. 2017 Mar;47(3):324-330. doi: 10.1111/cea.12837. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Associations between postpartum depressive symptoms and childhood asthma diminish with child age.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Faculty of Nursing & Cumming School of Medicine (Pediatrics & Psychiatry), University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Department of Mathematics & Statistics, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada.



Affecting 19% of women, postpartum depression is a major concern to the immediate health of mothers and infants. In the long-term, it has been linked to the development of early-onset asthma at school entry, but only if the depression persists beyond the postnatal period. No studies have tested whether associations with postpartum depressive symptoms and early-onset asthma phenotypes persist into later school age.


To determine associations between maternal postpartum depressive symptoms and childhood asthma between the ages of 5-10 by using a nested longitudinal design.


Data were drawn from the 1994-2004 administrations of the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, which tracks the health of a nationally representative sample of children in Canada. Child asthma was diagnosed by a health professional, and maternal depressive symptoms were assessed by the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale. Analyses were conducted by using a multilevel modelling approach, in which longitudinal assessments of asthma in 1696 children were nested within the exposure of postpartum depression.


Postpartum depressive symptoms had a 1.5-fold significant association with childhood asthma between the ages 6-8. This was independent of male sex, maternal asthma, non-immigrant status, low household socioeconomic status, being firstborn, low birthweight, low family functioning and urban-rural residence, of which the first 4 covariates elevated the risk of asthma. Statistical significance was lost at age 8 when maternal prenatal smoking replaced urban-rural residence as a covariate. At ages 9-10, an association was no longer evident.


Women affected by postpartum depressive symptoms are concerned about long-term health effects of their illness on their infants. Although postpartum depressive symptoms were associated with school-age asthma at ages 6 and 7, this association diminished later. Both home and school life stress should be considered in future studies on asthma development later in childhood.


asthma; epidemiology; pediatrics

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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