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Researchers find no link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and asthma during childhood

  • Maternal smoking has been associated with childhood asthma.
  • A new study examines if those children born to mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy have a greater risk of hospitalization for asthma.
  • Findings indicate no causal link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and asthma during childhood.

Asthma is a major public health problem throughout the world. In the United States alone, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, asthma affects more than 20 million Americans. In the year 2000, nearly 5,000 Americans died due to asthma-related problems. Researchers in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research investigate if those children born to mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy have a greater risk of hospitalization for asthma. Their findings indicate there is no causal link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and asthma during childhood.

"The idea to study the association between maternal alcohol intake and childhood asthma is primarily based on the current knowledge that asthma prevalence has rapidly increased on a global basis," said Wei Yuan, assistant director of the Shanghai Institute of Planned Parenthood Research. "One theory, the 'hypothesis of programming,' looks at the fetal origins of diseases; and we thought this might also provide a chance to examine any early environmental factors for asthma. In addition, it makes sense to study the association between maternal alcohol intake and childhood asthma because of an increase of alcohol intake among young women, and the biological plausibility of the fetal effects of alcohol on the immunological components of asthma."

Yuan and his colleagues gathered data on 10,440 single-born infants who were born at 36 weeks of gestation or later to mothers attending midwife centers between April 1984 and April 1987 in Denmark. Mothers completed a questionnaire regarding lifestyle and socio-ec
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