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Keywords:

  • fetal programming;
  • HPA axis;
  • maternal prenatal stress;
  • social stress

Summary

There is still much debate as to the pathways through which some children develop asthma and others do not. One possible mechanism outlined here concerns the way in which stress may influence the neuroendocrine system and thence the immune system. Supporting evidence from animal experiments suggests that maternal prenatal stress may be of importance, resulting in programming of the infant's HPA axis. In addition, social stressors during the early part of a child's life may also affect the HPA axis and thence dysregulation of immune system functioning with implications for the development of asthma.