What moms-to-be are breathing in at work could hurt their unborn children.
A new Danish study suggests that a mother’s exposure to airborne pollutants may increase the chances her child will develop asthma.
According to the study based on 45,658 seven year old kids and their mothers, 18.6 percent of the children whose mothers were exposed to workplace air pollution during pregnancy got asthma, compared to 16.1 percent of the general population.
Dr. Klaus Bonnelykke, who did not participate in the study, is skeptical of the findings. "Results like these should always be interpreted with caution since they may be caused by confounding from other lifestyle factors that are not easily adjusted for," says Bonnelykke, of the Danish Pediatric Asthma Center.
“However,” the doctor adds, “there is increasing evidence that the prenatal period may be a critical period affecting the offspring's risk for later development of asthma and other (allergic) diseases.”
The research, conducted by scientists at the School of Public Health in Denmark, was introduced last month at the European Respiratory Society’s annual congress in Amsterdam.
Dr. Berit Christensen, who led the research, believes the study’s findings are a step in the right direction. "While a link has been found, our results at this stage are modest and further research is needed into specific chemicals and substances to determine those that could be most harmful," he says. But, the doctor adds, "This is the first large-scale study which has shown an association between maternal exposures during work and asthma in children.”
For the study, Christensen analyzed mothers’ job titles to determine their exposure to workplace pollutants.
Researchers then adjusted for outside factors such as age, smoking habits, allergy issues, body mass index, medication, pets, and hypersensitivities.