Research indicates massage therapy can alleviate stress and relieve depression in pregnant women. A new study indicates that mothers who are stressed during pregnancy give birth to children with a greater chance of developing asthma.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston investigated differences in immune-function markers in cord blood between infants born to mothers in high-stress environments and those born to mothers with lower stress, and found marked differences in patterns that may be associated with asthma risk later in life.

Asthma is known to be more prevalent among ethnic minorities and among disadvantaged urban communities, the researchers noted. “The role of stress in asthma development is poorly understood, but animal studies have suggested that the mother’s stress during pregnancy can influence the offspring’s immune system, starting in the womb,” a press release noted.

The research, a prospective cohort study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will continue as the infants grow up to determine whether maternal stress levels do indeed have an impact on asthma development.

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