Association of maternal anemia with increased wheeze and asthma in children

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 Feb;106(2):131-139.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2010.11.007. Epub 2011 Jan 8.


Background: Increasing interest has focused on maternal nutrition and micronutrient status during pregnancy and respiratory disease development in the offspring.

Objective: To examine the relationship between maternal anemia in pregnancy with wheeze and asthma in early childhood.

Methods: The cohort included children of women followed through pregnancy and recontacted when the child was 6 years of age to evaluate respiratory health. Exposure was assessed using maternal anemia diagnosis and hemoglobin (Hgb) < 11 during delivery hospitalization. Study outcomes include wheezing in early childhood; patterns of wheeze from birth to age 6 (early-onset transient wheeze; late-onset wheeze; early-onset persistent wheeze); and diagnosis of childhood asthma.

Results: Maternal anemia was reported by 11.9% of mothers and was associated with recurrent infant wheeze in the first year (adjusted odds ratio [ORa] = 2.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18, 4.00), wheezing before age 3 (Ora = 2.42, 95% CI 1.38, 4.23), and early-onset transient and early-onset persistent wheeze patterns (Ora = 2.81, 95%CI 1.38, 5.72, and Ora = 2.07, 95% CI 1.02, 4.22), respectively. Among children of mothers with asthma, maternal anemia was associated with recurrent wheeze in year 1 (Ora = 4.22, 95% CI 1.65, 10.80) and wheeze before age 3 (Ora = 2.73, 95% CI 1.17, 6.35). Offspring of mothers with asthma also had increased odds of asthma diagnosis (Ora = 2.53, 95% CI 1.04, 6.17) and current asthma (Ora = 3.46, 95% CI 1.45, 8.26).

Conclusions: Maternal anemia during pregnancy is associated with infant respiratory health outcomes. If this observation is replicated, maternal anemia may be a target for intervention and future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / complications*
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic*
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*