Maternal psychosocial stress associates with increased risk of asthma development in offspring

Maria Magnus, Rosalind J Wright, Espen Roysamb, Christine Parr, Oystein Karlstad, Christian Page, Per Nafstad, Siri Haberg, Stephanie London, Wenche Nystad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Prenatal maternal psychosocial stress might influence the development of childhood asthma. Evaluating paternal psychosocial stress and conducting a sibling comparison could provide further insight into the role of unmeasured confounding. We examined the associations of parental psychosocial stress during and after pregnancy with asthma at age 7 years in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (n = 63,626; children born in 2000–2007). Measures of psychosocial stress included lifetime major depressive symptoms, current anxiety/depression symptoms, use of antidepressants, anxiolytics, and/or hypnotics, life satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, work stress, and social support. Childhood asthma was associated with maternal lifetime major depressive symptoms (adjusted relative risk (aRR) = 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.09, 1.30), in addition to symptoms of anxiety/depression during pregnancy (aRR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.29) and 6 months after delivery (aRR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.07, 1.28). Maternal negative life events during pregnancy (aRR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.13) and 6 months after delivery (aRR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.18) were also associated with asthma. These associations were not replicated when evaluated within sibling groups. There were no associations with paternal psychosocial stress. In conclusion, maternal anxiety/depression and negative life events were associated with offspring asthma, but this might be explained by unmeasured maternal background characteristics that remain stable across deliveries.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberkwx366
Pages (from-to)1199-1209
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number6
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • asthma
  • maternal stress
  • paternal stress
  • pregnancy
  • psychosocial stress


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