After studying 138 pregnant women with asthma through their entire term, researchers have concluded that a female fetus exerts an adverse effect on maternal asthma, which, if the mother is not treated with inhaled glucocorticoids, results in reduced fetal growth. Investigators examined the effects of asthma on the endocrine and immune relationships between mother, placenta, and fetus. The investigators were looking specifically at the role of each component on the control of human growth during pregnancy. They studied the 138 pregnant women with asthma plus 44 pregnant women without asthma who served as controls. They found that inhaled glucocorticoid intake by women with asthma who used moderate or high doses of the drug significantly increased in later pregnancy when women were pregnant with a female fetus, suggesting an up-regulation of inflammation associated with asthma as gestation progressed. The researchers said that their study results indicate that in pregnant women with asthma there is reduced female fetal growth when no inhaled glucocorticoids are used. Female birth weight and head circumference were both reduced to the 34 percentile, while the weight index was normal, suggesting symmetrical growth restriction. They said that the use of glucocorticoids to control asthma inflammation by women with mild asthma was associated with female birth weight percentages that were comparable to control subjects with no asthma. In addition, they noted that male fetuses seem to be insensitive to the effects of inflammation in the mother. The study appears in the first issue for December 2003 of the American Thoracic Society's peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
IMPAIRED AROUSALS ASSOCIATED WITH SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME