Are oral contraceptive use and pregnancy complications risk factors for atopic disorders among offspring?

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2004 Dec;15(6):487-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2004.00185.x.


In utero programming of atopic manifestations has been suggested. We investigated the association between oral contraceptive (OC) use before, and complications during pregnancy (CDP) and asthma, along with other atopic manifestations. The study is based on neonates from Kingston and St Andrew, a geographic subcohort from the Jamaican Perinatal Morbidity, Mortality Survey conducted in 1986-1987. Information on OC use and CDP was extracted from maternal interviews and medical records. In a follow up in 1997-1998, via interviews with mothers, trained nurses collected information on asthma/wheezing, coughing, eczema, and hay fever. Data, specific to this paper, from birth and 11-12 yr of age was available for a total of 1040 of the 1720 members of the geographic subcohort. Using logistic regression, controlling for confounders, we estimated adjusted odds ratio (aOR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI). For asthma or wheezing, and coughing, aOR for OC use were 1.81 (95% CI: 1.25-2.61), and 2.72 (95% CI: 1.41-5.24), respectively. CDP was only shown to be a significant risk factor for hay fever. Additionally, a higher number of older siblings were protective for hay fever. The results suggest that asthma in childhood may be programmed in utero.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Cough / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jamaica / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Sounds / physiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Contraceptives, Oral