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Maternal asthma is associated with reduced lung function in male infants in a combined analysis of the BLT and BILD cohorts


Rationale Asthma in pregnancy is associated with respiratory diseases in the offspring.

Objective To investigate if maternal asthma is associated with lung function in early life.

Methods Data on lung function measured at 5–6 weeks of age were combined from two large birth cohorts: the Bern Infant Lung Development (BILD) and the Australian Breathing for Life Trial (BLT) birth cohorts conducted at three study sites (Bern, Switzerland; Newcastle and Sydney, Australia). The main outcome variable was time to reach peak tidal expiratory flow as a percentage of total expiratory time(tPTEF:tE%). Bayesian linear hierarchical regression analyses controlling for study site as random effect were performed to estimate the effect of maternal asthma on the main outcome, adjusting for sex, birth order, breast feeding, weight gain and gestational age. In separate adjusted Bayesian models an interaction between maternal asthma and sex was investigated by including an interaction term.

Measurements and main results All 406 BLT infants were born to mothers with asthma in pregnancy, while 193 of the 213 (91%) BILD infants were born to mothers without asthma. A significant interaction between maternal asthma and male sex was negatively associated with tPTEF:tE% (intercept 37.5; estimate: –3.5; 95% credible interval –6.8 to –0.1). Comparing the model posterior probabilities provided decisive evidence in favour of an interaction between maternal asthma and male sex (Bayes factor 33.5).

Conclusions Maternal asthma is associated with lower lung function in male babies, which may have lifelong implications on their lung function trajectories and future risk of wheezing and asthma.

  • asthma
  • paediatric lung disease
  • respiratory measurement

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