SAN DIEGO — Women who experience symptoms of allergic rhinitis during early pregnancy are more than six times as likely to have children with allergic rhinitis than are women who have no such symptoms, Dr. Miwa Shinohara said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
The results suggest that women should be aggressive in controlling allergic rhinitis symptoms during early pregnancy, with avoidance of allergens providing the best means of control, said Dr. Shinohara, of department of pediatrics at Kochi (Japan) University.
The retrospective cohort study involved 400 women with physician-diagnosed allergic rhinitis and their offspring. When the children were an average of 9.9 months old (range 1.7–18.7 months), the mothers completed a questionnaire about their allergic rhinitis symptoms during pregnancy. The study's primary outcome measure was whether the children themselves had physician-diagnosed allergic rhinitis.
Of the 400 women, 150 recalled having no allergic rhinitis symptoms during pregnancy, 219 recalled having symptoms early in pregnancy, and 173 recalled having symptoms late in pregnancy. (These figures total more than 400 because some women had symptoms both early and late in pregnancy.)
After adjustment for age, gender, month of birth, and the father's history of allergic rhinitis, women who had symptoms early in pregnancy were 6.3 times as likely to have children with allergic rhinitis as women who had no such symptoms. There was no statistically significant increase in the odds ratio for women who had symptoms late in pregnancy.
Additionally, there was no statistically significant association between the mother's symptoms and a diagnosis of bronchial asthma, food allergy, or atopic dermatitis in their children. And there was no statistically significant association between the father's symptoms of allergic rhinitis during pregnancy and the child's allergic rhinitis.
Dr. Shinohara said that the results imply the presence of an epigenetic mechanism for transmitting allergic rhinitis from mother to child, presumably through organ-specific hypersensitivity.