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Exposure to high pollen levels in the last three months of pregnancy significantly increases the baby's risk of contracting asthma, warn Swedish researchers. High pollen count was associated with a 35 per cent increased risk of infants being taken to hospital because of asthma, a study of more than 110,000 pregnant women found.
The study conducted by researchers at the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Umea University closely examined the significance of actual pollen content in different time periods before and after birth. A range of factors that could have influenced the results, including mothers' smoking habits, infant gender, stage of pregnancy at birth and season of birth, were taken into account by the researchers.
According to researchers, one reason for the association would be that pregnant women with allergies may have reactions to pollen that affect the unborn baby's environment and affect immune system development. It is also possible that the complications suffered by the pregnant women's severe reactions to pollen causes premature birth, which is known to increase the risk of respiratory problems in the child.
The findings were published in the journal Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology.
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