Menopause as a predictor of new-onset asthma: A longitudinal Northern European population study

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Jan;137(1):50-57.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2015.08.019. Epub 2015 Oct 2.


Background: There is limited and conflicting evidence on the effect of menopause on asthma.

Objectives: We sought to study whether the incidence of asthma and respiratory symptoms differ by menopausal status in a longitudinal population-based study with an average follow-up of 12 years.

Methods: The Respiratory Health in Northern Europe study provided questionnaire data pertaining to respiratory and reproductive health at baseline (1999-2001) and follow-up (2010-2012). The study cohort included women aged 45 to 65 years at follow-up, without asthma at baseline, and not using exogenous hormones (n = 2322). Menopausal status was defined as nonmenopausal, transitional, early postmenopausal, and late postmenopausal. Associations with asthma (defined by the use of asthma medication, having asthma attacks, or both) and respiratory symptoms scores were analyzed by using logistic (asthma) and negative binomial (respiratory symptoms) regressions, adjusting for age, body mass index, physical activity, smoking, education, and study center.

Results: The odds of new-onset asthma were increased in women who were transitional (odds ratio, 2.40; 95% CI, 1.09-5.30), early postmenopausal (odds ratio, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.06-4.20), and late postmenopausal (odds ratio, 3.44; 95% CI, 1.31-9.05) at follow-up compared with nonmenopausal women. The risk of respiratory symptoms increased in early postmenopausal (coefficient, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.06-0.75) and late postmenopausal (coefficient, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.15-1.23) women. These findings were consistent irrespective of smoking status and across study centers.

Conclusions: New-onset asthma and respiratory symptoms increased in women becoming postmenopausal in a longitudinal population-based study. Clinicians should be aware that respiratory health might deteriorate in women during reproductive aging.

Keywords: Amenorrhea; Respiratory Health in Northern Europe; asthma; estrogens; longitudinal; menopausal asthma; menopause; reproductive aging; respiratory symptoms; sex hormones.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Asthma / blood
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menopause* / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio


  • Estradiol