BACKGROUND: Prior research has linked maternal prenatal and postnatal mental health with the subsequent development of asthma in children. However, this relationship has not been examined in inner-city African Americans and Hispanics, populations at high risk for asthma.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the relationship of maternal demoralization with wheeze, specific wheeze phenotypes, and seroatopy among children living in a low-income, urban community.
METHODS: African American and Dominican women aged 18 to 35 years residing in New York City (the Bronx and Northern Manhattan) were recruited during pregnancy (n = 279). Maternal demoralization (ie, psychological distress) was measured both prenatally and postnatally by validated questionnaire. Outcomes included wheeze, transient (birth to 2.5 years of age), late onset (3-5 years), and persistent (birth to 5 years of age), evaluated via questionnaire and total and indoor allergen specific IgE (at birth and ages 2, 3, and 5 years). Logistic regression with generalized estimating equations assessed the association of demoralization with wheeze and atopy. Multinomial regression explored associations between demoralization and specific wheeze phenotypes.
RESULTS: Prenatal demoralization significantly predicted overall wheeze (adjusted odds ratio OR, 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29-2.14), transient wheeze (OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.34-3.76), and persistent wheeze (OR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.52-4.77). No association was found between demoralization and IgE after adjustment (total IgE: OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.74-1.45; any specific IgE: OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.57-1.60).
CONCLUSIONS: In this inner-city cohort, prenatal demoralization was associated with transient and persistent wheeze. Understanding how maternal demoralization influences children’s respiratory health may be important for developing effective interventions among disadvantaged populations.