A new Australian study out of La Trobe University is suggesting that women who are introduced to pollen in their final trimester of pregnancy might be putting their unborn babies at a higher risk of developing respiratory diseases, such as asthma, in the future.
The findings of this study show that infants born during peak grass pollen season had higher immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels in umbilical cord blood compared to babies who were born at other times of the year. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels serve as critical markers in allergic disease prediction.
There seems to be a specific emphasis on increased susceptibility in the final months of gestation compared to entire pregnancies spent during a complete grass pollen season. Environment International published an earlier study that indicated women who were expecting throughout the whole grass pollen season in countries such as Denmark and Germany, were somewhat safeguarded against higher levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) in cord blood. The exposure to pollen from the early months of pregnancy have what could be thought of as a protective effect on infants.
Researchers were quick to note that there is much work to be done in the field of pollen exposure and pregnancy. Key scientists pointed out that the findings in no way suggest that all babies exposed to pollen in the last trimester mean they will develop any respiratory illnesses later on in life. When it comes to asthma, there are many indicators that determine who is at a higher risk for allergies and related respiratory conditions.
What we do know is that these findings serve as yet another piece to the respiratory health puzzle. For millions of Americans, allergies and asthma negatively and severely impact their lives causing airways to swell and produce extra mucus. Asthma can make breathing difficult and bring on symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
There are currently 26 million Americans battling asthma, which equates to one in thirteen people, and 8.3% of American children. If scientists, researchers, and experts in the medical field can better understand the precursors and factors that eventually lead to respiratory illness, then perhaps one day they will be able to eradicate the diseases altogether.