Women who are exposed to high levels of pollen in late pregnancy may be more likely to have a child who later develops asthma, a new study has found.
Some 470,000 people in Ireland have asthma, including one in five children.
Previous research has indicated that there may be a link between being born during the pollen season - which begins in Ireland in the early summer - and an increased risk of allergies. However pollen counts can differ widely from one year to the next.
Swedish scientists decided to look at the significance of pollen content during different time periods before and after birth. The study involved around 110,000 pregnancies.
It found that if a mother had been exposed to high levels of pollen in the last 12 weeks of her pregnancy, her child was much more likely to require hospitalisation for asthma symptoms during his/her first 12 months of life.
The scientists said there may be a number of reasons for this. For example, if a pregnant woman has a severe reaction to pollen, she may suffer complications with the pregnancy, including a premature birth. Premature babies are known to have an increased risk of respiratory problems, such as asthma.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology.
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