ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
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Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
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Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
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Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
CAREGIVING
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
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Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Coffee or Tea Consumption May Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
FITNESS
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
Have Fun But Put Play It Safe on the 4th
Showerheads Harbor a Bounty of Germs
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
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Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
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KID'S HEALTH
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MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Countdown to Hair Loss
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Add your Article

Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk

A stressful pregnancy may increase the risk that a baby will develop asthma, a new study finds.

The role of stress in asthma is not understood, but animal studies suggest that prenatal stress can influence the infant's immune system in the womb, the researchers noted. It is also known that asthma is most prevalent in inner cities, where minorities and disadvantaged people live in increasingly stressful circumstances, they added.

"This is the first human study to corroborate research from animal studies demonstrating that stress experienced by mothers during their pregnancy influences their child's developing immune system starting in the womb," said lead researcher Dr. Rosalind Wright, an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"The work may point to the need to design interventions and strategies to reduce stress in pregnant women to both enhance the mother's well-being and to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses in their children such as asthma," she noted.

The report is published in the March 18 online edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

For the study, Wright's team surveyed pregnant women in several cities, including Boston, Baltimore, New York and St. Louis. The women were mostly from ethnic minorities, and 20 percent lived below the poverty level.

In each of the 557 families, a mother or a father had a history of asthma or allergy.

All of the families completed a questionnaire that asked about the stress they lived with, such as domestic violence, money worries and violence in the community.

After the babies were born, Wright's group took samples of the umbilical cord blood. They used these samples to test reactions to various allergens, such as dust and cockroaches, and viral and bacterial stimulants.

Children born to more stressed-out moms-to-be had different immune cell responses when stimulated with various common environmental triggers compared to babies born to mothers reporting less stress, Wright said.

The researchers were particularly interested in the production of cytokines, which are proteins released by immune-system cells that help govern immune responses.

"The cytokine patterns seen in the higher-stress groups, an indicator of how the child's immune system is functioning at birth and responding to the environment, may be a marker of increased risk for developing asthma as they get older," Wright said.

Wright's team plans to follow the children as they grow up to see if they are at increased risk for developing asthma or allergies.

Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said these findings aren't surprising, but whether they predict a child's risk of asthma or other allergies is unclear.

"This is an intriguing finding," Lipshultz said. "It isn't surprising, preclinical studies have supported this, what's novel here is it's the first human study."

Lipshultz noted that during the first few months of life the infant is protected by the mother's immune system. "Then the baby has to start making their own immune system responses," he explained.

That's why it's tough to take these findings to the next stage, Lipshultz said: "This study can't tell you, based on whether a mom is stressed during pregnancy, that the child will be healthier or sicker from asthma or allergic diseases." He said the only way to tell is to follow these children as they grow up.

Another expert, Dr. Andrew R. Colin, director of the division of pediatric pulmonary and co-director of the Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said stress is a well-known risk factor for asthma.

"But this is a completely different understanding of the etiology [of asthma], that this is transmitted from generation to generation -- this is really interesting," he said.

"That the immunity of the mother is actually modified by stresses in the environment and transmits [it] to the next generation is not new. There is data that it goes even to the third generation," he said. "But the fact that stress is the major player in being the immune modulator, I think is really exciting."

SOURCES: Rosalind Wright, M.D., M.P.H., associate physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital, assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., chairman, pediatrics, and Andrew R. Colin, M.D., director, division of pediatric pulmonary, and co-director, Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Program, both of University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; March 18, 2010, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, online