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Children Born Post-Infertility at Higher Risk of Asthma, Study Suggests

December 6, 2012

Currently in press with Fertility and Sterility, the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), “Maternal fecundity and asthma among offspring- is the risk programmed preconceptionally? Retrospective observational study” suggests children born post-infertility or pregnancy loss have a higher incidence of asthma.

Asthma is characterized by shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing and is caused by inflammation of the airways. It is common amongst young children and those born to mothers who smoke are predisposed to having the chronic condition. Additionally, a mother’s age and method of delivery- natural or caesarian- may increase the likelihood of a child having asthma.

Finnish researchers reviewed 40,914 records of children born from singleton pregnancies at a minimum of 22 weeks gestation from 1989 to 2007 at Kuopio University Hospital. Questionnaires issued to mothers at week 20 of their pregnancies combined with nurse and midwife reports provided pre-pregnancy data. This included medical and fertility history, age, and behavioral factors such as smoking history. Children born after maternal infertility, delays in achieving pregnancy, or multiple miscarriages were examined for a link to the respiratory disease. The research team discovered that 2,577 of those children were treated for asthma at some point in their lives with average onset of 4.2 years of age.

Results of the study concluded that risk of asthma was 1.25 times higher for children born after two miscarriages , 1.39 times higher for those born post-infertility, and 1.25 to 1.30 times higher for those born after prolonged time to pregnancy (3 or more months), and 1.5 times higher to those born as a result of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or fertility treatment like intrauterine insemination (IUI).

New discoveries in the field of reproductive medicine help us to understand health outcomes for mothers and children post-infertility treatment. Linda Giudice, MD, PhD, President of ASRM, says: “Large scale studies like this help us better determine what effects parents’ infertility might have on their children’s health and better advise patients of the risks they and their children may face.” Further research is needed, but these results are representative of a large sample and can be applied to the population in general, thereby increasing awareness of the effects of preconception factors on respiratory health.


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