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Keywords:

  • allergic;
  • contraceptive;
  • disease;
  • maternal;
  • offspring

Background:  Maternal use of oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) might increase the prevalence of allergic diseases among offspring. The aim of the study was to clarify if there are differences between OCP types in this association.

Methods:  Primary outcomes were asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic eczema among 1182 children (618 asthmatic and 564 controls) aged 5–6 years.

Results:  Maternal previous use of desogestrel, gestodene or cyproterone acetate before pregnancy, each combined with ethinyloestradiol (EO), increased the risk of allergic rhinitis among offspring compared with those children whose mothers had not used OCPs (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.07–2.59, P < 0.024), and this risk was increased mainly in those children with parental allergy (OR 1.78, 95% CI 1.11–2.86, P < 0.018), especially in boys (OR 2.12, 95% CI 1.17–3.84, P < 0.014). No associations were observed between maternal use of OCPs before pregnancy and asthma or atopic eczema among offspring. The association between the previous use of OCPs and allergic rhinitis was not mediated through maternal sex steroid levels during early pregnancy, but women who had used more androgenic types of progestin formulas had higher serum levels of progesterone during early pregnancy.

Conclusion:  Maternal previous use of desogestrel, gestodene or cyproterone acetate before pregnancy, each combined with EO, increased the risk of allergic rhinitis among offspring compared with those children whose mothers had not used OCPs and this risk was detected mainly in boys and in children with parental allergy.