Pregnant Moms Who Swim May Increase Baby's Chances For Asthma
September 2, 2013

Swimming During Pregnancy Could Increase Child’s Asthma, Eczema Risk

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Expectant mothers who swim during pregnancy could increase the chance their child will develop asthma or eczema later in life, according to research appearing in the British Journal of Dermatology.

According to the researchers, airborne chemicals from chlorine (which is used to keep pools clean) could alter the immune system of an unborn child, increasing his or her risk of developing those conditions, Rebecca Seales of the Daily Mail reported on Sunday.

The same is true for some cleaning products and cosmetics, scientists from the St. John's Institute of Dermatology in London and the University of Manchester warn in their study. Their research sought to investigate potential causes of a fivefold increase in asthma, eczema and hay fever cases in the UK over the past five years.

“The increase has already been linked to a number of factors including the fact that people wash themselves more often, so have lower resistance, and have less exposure than before to vitamin D,” noted Claire Duffin of The Telegraph.

However, the study authors “reviewed existing evidence and the results of previous tests and have concluded that ‘exposure to certain airborne chemicals during pregnancy and in early life may play a contributory role in influencing susceptibility to atopic allergy,’” she added.

Dr. John McFadden, consultant dermatologist at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, told The Telegraph additional research into the potential link between the chemicals and the increase in disease risk should be analyzed. He said the scientific community was still searching for the exact cause, and that he and his colleagues have developed another potential source, and people are using far more chemicals than they did five decades ago.

“Research has found that people with atopic allergies tend to have an immune system in which the element which fights parasites is more dominant than that which combats bacteria,” Duffin said. “During a woman’s pregnancy, her immune system skews the same way to protect against miscarriage and premature labor. It means her baby’s immune system is also biased when it is born.

“Normally, the baby’s immune system would rebalance within a year. However, the scientists believe that environmental factors, such as airborne chemicals, may result in a permanent skewing of the immune system, which then leaves children predisposed to allergies,” she added. Currently, health experts encourage pregnant women to maintain their health by doing low-intensity exercise such as swimming, added Seales.