Objective: Some recent studies suggest that maternal prenatal stress (MPS) increases allergic diseases in the children. However, knowledge on this issue in Asian children are lacking. We investigated the association between MPS and the risks of wheeze and asthma in Japanese infants aged 16–24 months. Methods: The present subjects were 763 Japanese mother–child pairs. The first, second, and third surveys based on self-administered questionnaires were performed during pregnancy, between 2 and 9 months postpartum, and from 16 to 24 months postpartum, respectively. Data on MPS was obtained in the first survey, using the Stress Inventory (SI), which constructs 12 specific behavioral patterns as response styles to stressors. Data on wheeze and asthma was obtained in the third survey, where wheeze was based on the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood criteria and asthma was based on doctors' diagnosis. Results: There were 169 infants with wheeze (22.1%) and 33 infants with asthma (4.3%), at the time of the third survey. Multiple logistic regression analyses found that a maternal behavioral pattern characterized by chronic irritation and anger was associated with the risk of childhood asthma (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.56, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.11 to 2.22), but not wheeze (adjusted OR = 1.02, 95%CI: 0.88 to 1.19), while there was no appreciable association between the other SI scales and the risk of childhood wheeze or asthma. Conclusions: The results partly supported the hypothesis that MPS might increase the risk of asthma in their infants in Japanese.
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