Periconception endogenous and exogenous maternal sex steroid hormones and risk of asthma and allergy in offspring: protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMJ Open. 2017 Jul 12;7(7):e014637. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014637.


Introduction: Pregnancy is associated with several hormonal changes which influence the developing fetus. Variations in maternal endogenous hormones and prepregnancy use of hormonal preparations have been linked to asthma and allergy in the offspring, but findings are inconsistent. We plan to undertake a systematic review to synthesise the evidence on the association between endogenous and exogenous maternal sex hormones and the risk of asthma and allergy in the offspring.

Methods and analysis: We will search Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, Institute of Scientific Information Web of Science, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health, Scopus, Google Scholar, Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, Global Health, Psychological Information (PsycINFO), Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience (CAB) International and WHO Global Health Library from inception until 2016 to identify relevant studies on the topic. Additional studies will be identified by searching databases of proceedings of international conferences, contacting international experts in the field and searching the references cited in identified studies. We will include analytical epidemiological studies. Two researchers will independently screen identified studies, undertake data extraction and assess risk of bias in eligible studies, while a third reviewer will arbitrate any disagreement. We will use the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool to assess the risk of bias in the studies. We will perform a random-effects meta-analysis to synthesise the evidence. We will use the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach to rate the strength and quality of the overall evidence with respect to each outcome.

Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval is not required since the study is a systematic review of published literature. Our findings will be reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Prospero registration number: CRD42016048324.

Keywords: allergy; asthma; children; hormonal contraceptives; oestrogen; pregnancy; progesterone; systematic review; testosterone.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Preconception Injuries / complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Research Design
  • Risk Assessment
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones