Relationship between maternal demoralization, wheeze, and immunoglobulin E among inner-city children

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 Jul;107(1):42-49.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2011.03.004. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Background: Prior research has linked maternal prenatal and postnatal mental health with the subsequent development of asthma in children. However, this relationship has not been examined in inner-city African Americans and Hispanics, populations at high risk for asthma.

Objective: To determine the relationship of maternal demoralization with wheeze, specific wheeze phenotypes, and seroatopy among children living in a low-income, urban community.

Methods: African American and Dominican women aged 18 to 35 years residing in New York City (the Bronx and Northern Manhattan) were recruited during pregnancy (n = 279). Maternal demoralization (ie, psychological distress) was measured both prenatally and postnatally by validated questionnaire. Outcomes included wheeze, transient (birth to 2.5 years of age), late onset (3-5 years), and persistent (birth to 5 years of age), evaluated via questionnaire and total and indoor allergen specific IgE (at birth and ages 2, 3, and 5 years). Logistic regression with generalized estimating equations assessed the association of demoralization with wheeze and atopy. Multinomial regression explored associations between demoralization and specific wheeze phenotypes.

Results: Prenatal demoralization significantly predicted overall wheeze (adjusted odds ratio OR, 1.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29-2.14), transient wheeze (OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.34-3.76), and persistent wheeze (OR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.52-4.77). No association was found between demoralization and IgE after adjustment (total IgE: OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.74-1.45; any specific IgE: OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.57-1.60).

Conclusions: In this inner-city cohort, prenatal demoralization was associated with transient and persistent wheeze. Understanding how maternal demoralization influences children's respiratory health may be important for developing effective interventions among disadvantaged populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Sounds / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E