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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Pollen exposure in pregnancy and infancy and risk of asthma hospitalisation - a register based cohort study

Adrian J Lowe1234*, David Olsson1, Lennart Bråbäck15 and Bertil Forsberg1

Author Affiliations

1 Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

2 Epidemiology and Global Health, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

3 Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia

4 Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic Epidemiology, School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

5 Department of Research and Development, Västernorrland County Council, Sundsvall, Sweden

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Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology 2012, 8:17  doi:10.1186/1710-1492-8-17

Published: 7 November 2012

Abstract

Background

A seasonal effect of month of birth and risk of allergic disease has been suggested by numerous studies. Few studies have directly measured pollen exposures at different points during pregnancy and in early life, and assessed their effects on risk of respiratory disease outcomes.

Methods

Pollen exposure was calculated for the first and last 12 weeks of pregnancy and the first 12 weeks of infancy for all children conceived by women residing in Stockholm, Sweden, between 1988 and 1995. Hospital admission data for respiratory conditions in the first year of life was also collected.

Results

Out of 110,381 children, 940 had been hospitalised for asthma by 12-months of age. Pollen levels showed both marked seasonal variations and between year differences. Exposure to high levels of pollen in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of asthma hospitalisation (aOR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.07-1.71 for highest quartile versus remaining infants). Exposure to high levels of pollen in the first three months of life was associated with a reduced risk (aOR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.59-0.98) but only in children of heavy smoking mothers.

Conclusions

High levels of pollen exposure during late pregnancy were somewhat unexpectedly associated with an elevated risk of hospitalisation for asthma within the first year of life.

Keywords:
Pollen; Early life exposure; Asthma; Hospitalisation