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Mom’s Job and Baby’s Asthma Risk

Pregnant Moms’ Jobs Can Increase Asthma Risk in Children
by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Moms-to-be whose jobs expose them to paint, glue, and other chemical substances might give birth to children who are more susceptible to developing asthma.

In a study* that included more than 40,000 children, Danish scientists studied the link between moms’ occupations during pregnancy and the prevalence of asthma among the children at the age of seven. The researchers were most interested in the effects of chemicals called low molecular weight (LMW) agents, found in vehicle parts, furniture, shoe soles, paint and varnish, and wood-derived products. To assess the impact of LMW agents, women in the study were classified into occupation groups, including those who were exposed to LMW agents on the job, those who had mixed exposures, and others.

The scientists found that of children whose mothers had occupational exposure to LMW agents, nearly 19 percent had asthma. Among children whose mothers were not exposed to LMW agents on the job, the scientists found no significant association with the respiratory condition. This is the first large-scale study demonstrating a link between maternal chemical exposures on the job and the risk of asthma in children.

If you’re pregnant and your job exposes you to paint, glue, or other LMW chemicals, your unborn baby could have a higher risk for developing asthma. If at all possible, now might be an excellent time to ask for a transfer to another department.

*European Lung Foundation (2011, September 23). Mother’s occupation while pregnant can increase risk of asthma in children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2011/09/110923104712.htm

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