WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Maternal, but not paternal, psychological distress during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk for asthma in the child, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in Thorax.

Evelien R. van Meel, from Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues examined the association between parental psychological distress during pregnancy and lung function and asthma in school-age children. The analysis included 4,231 children with lung function measured at 10 years.

The researchers found that the prevalence of asthma was 5.9 percent. Maternal overall psychological distress during pregnancy was associated with a lower forced vital capacity (FVC) per one-unit increase in offspring. Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy were associated with lower forced expiratory volume in the first second and FVC in their children using clinical cutoffs. The increased risk for asthma associated with all maternal psychological distress measures ranged from 46 to 91 percent. There was no change in associations when adjusting for paternal psychological distress during pregnancy and parental psychological distress after pregnancy. There was no association with paternal psychological distress during pregnancy and childhood respiratory morbidity.

“Our results may indicate an intrauterine effect of maternal psychological distress during pregnancy on fetal lung development and respiratory morbidity rather than an effect of unmeasured genetic, social, behavioral or environmental factors,” the authors write.

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