A study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School has
said that women who are stressed in pregnancy may unknowingly increase their
baby's risk of developing asthma and other allergies.
The study, which involved 387 babies, found that a
chemical linked to allergy was high in children whose mothers were stressed
during pregnancy. The researchers calculated the prevailing levels of
Immunoglobulin (IgE) in the cord blood of 387 babies. IgE is a chemical which
is linked to allergic response by the body.
They found that babies who were exposed to even minute
levels of dust mites showed exaggerated response and high levels of IgE. They
concluded that stress exposure was the main reason for this.
"This further supports the notion that stress can be
thought of as a social pollutant that, when 'breathed' into the body, may
influence the body's immune response similar to the effects of physical
pollutants like allergens, thus adding to their effects," said lead
researcher Dr Rosalind Wright.
The details of the study are due to be presented to the
American Thoracic Society.