Pregnancy study shows allergies, asthma affects mothers more when expecting girls

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - Expecting moms with chronic conditions, like asthma and allergies, could benefit from new research on maternal immune response.

A study showed such conditions will act up during pregnancy depending on the sex of the baby.

Melissa Fox beams at her baby girl Wren. She wonders if one day she'll struggle with seasonal allergies and asthma. Fox grew up with both.

"I had terrible allergies as a child growing up to the point where I had to get injections," said Fox.

Her allergies returned with a vengeance during her pregnancy with Wren.

"I actually had an increase in my allergies during the normal allergy season. They flared up so badly I was having to take something every day," said Fox.

It was something she didn't see while pregnant with Wren's big brother, Falcon.

"I barely had to take anything," said Fox.

Fox was among 80 women in a study of primarily healthy pregnant women.

"I believe I was about 18 weeks or so along," said Fox.

OSU Wexner Medical Center researcher Amanda Mitchell said part of it reviewed immune cells when exposed to bacteria during women's first, second, and third trimesters.

"Women carrying a baby girl when exposed to some sort of immune challenge exhibited a greater inflammatory response than women carrying a baby boy," said Mitchell.

Just like what Fox experienced while carrying Wren.

"I had more issues with shortness of breath, which I thought it was flaring up my asthma a little bit," said Fox.

Mitchell said inflammation is critical for immune response in wound healing and reaction to viruses, but excessive inflammation is stressful to the body.

A repeat study would be needed to help doctors care for pregnant women in the future.

"But then [it would only be] within a population of women who have asthma and that way we can say 'okay, is it that inflammation really higher in the women with baby girls who have asthma?'" said Mitchell.

Right now, Fox's main focus is the health of her two little ones.

"As a mother, all you want is for your child to be healthy and happy. So, I think it'll be good though to be aware of those things," said Fox.

Future studies would be needed to see how the findings relate to the health of an unborn child.

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