Stress and Dust – A Prenatal Recipe for Allergy & Asthma

May 19, 2008 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Stress and Dust – A Prenatal Recipe for Allergy & Asthma
The first human study in a U.S. population shows a direct link between mom's prenatal stress1 level and the immune system competence of her child.

While most people think of the immune system as germ fighters the reality is that the immune system is a major communication network that facilitates health and is intimately involved with normal brain function.

When a pregnant mother feels too stressed then her nervous system and immune system “wind up” to a greater or lesser degree – like priming the inflammatory pump. Such hyperness is passed on to her fetus and makes an imprint on the evolving nerve circuitry of her child, which will not only make her child more stress sensitive but more at risk for hyper immune system responses.

The new research shows this prenatal programming is especially problematic if stress is combined with dust or other allergen exposure. This means that multiple factors that irritate or arouse the immune system result in the most risk for future allergies or asthma.

Families need to do what they can to provide as stable and stress-free an environment as possible for pregnant women. This may include helping her with house cleaning so that she is not living in a dusty environment and not inhaling a lot of dust while doing cleaning herself. Pregnant women should consider wearing a dust mask while cleaning house.

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