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Blame Mom For Allergies, Asthma?

And before you scream at me, I think that’s a scummy title for a news report too.

ABC News reports that Harvard doctors seem to have found an increased risk of allergies and asthma in babies born to moms who were stressed during their pregnancies, and the effect was exacerbated by having dust mites in the mother’s houses. So, says ABC News to moms – listen up. De-stress, pronto, and clean up your filthy, bug ridden house.

Or perhaps, news reporter who wrote the title to that story, please consider other information about this study. Only 315 women – a very small amount for a scientific study – were involved in the research. The doctors noted a small (about 12%) increased risk of having a blood marker which might predict future asthma and allergies only in moms who were very stressed.

The claim that “stress causes asthma, allergies” is actually more accurately put as “some very stressed moms have babies with a blood marker which may (or may not) be an indicator of allergies and asthma in the future”.

And, the doctors who performed the preliminary study aren’t wiping their hands, satisfied they’ve placed the blame squarely on mom for baby’s ills. They plan to follow the babies born in the study for five years to see if they actually do go on to develop asthma or allergies.

I’m not advocating living in filth or becoming a stress ball while pregnant, and of course it’s generally a good idea for pregnant women, and non-pregnant women, to minimize their stress levels.

But that’s not always possible. Pregnancy is a stressful time for many – unplanned pregnancies, health worries, financial worries, insurance worries, work worries, partner worries, first time mother worries, second-third-fourth… time mother worries…. it doesn’t need to be compounded by totally unnecessary stress from stupid news reports hysterically rushing to condemn mom for her unborn babies’ potential health problems.

(Aside: my mom is the most houseproud, chilled out person I know. My younger sister is allergic to life, the universe and everything else. And asthmatic too.)


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