Maternal asthma, race and low birth weight deliveries

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Early Human Development








Anemia; Asthma; Birthweight; Obesity; Pregnancy; Race


Background: Asthma during pregnancy may compromise the well-being of the fetus and potentially impact an infant's birth weight via different mechanisms. Aims: 1) To assess the influence of asthma during pregnancy on the incidence of LBW outcomes in white non-Hispanic (WNH) and black non-Hispanic (BNH) women. 2) To identify other risk factors that affect low birth weight (LBW) (birth weight < 2500. g) outcomes among asthmatic women. Design/subjects: We conducted a retrospective analysis of compiled perinatal data on 17,073 patients including 9348 WNH and 7725 BNH women delivering at the George Washington University Hospital between 1990 and 2003. Univariate and logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations. Results: A total of 423 (2.5%) women had an asthma diagnosis, with a higher incidence in BNH women when compared to WNH women (3.4% vs. 1.7%, P< 0.001). In the WNH population, asthmatic women had higher incidences of gravidity, thyroid disease, and illicit drug use, whereas in the BNH population, asthmatic women had higher incidences of increased body mass index (BMI), and use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. After controlling for confounders in multiple logistic regression analyses, there was an association between asthma and LBW outcomes in BNH women (OR: 1.7, CI: 1.1-2.6, p= 0.01), but not in WNH women (OR = 0.99, CI = 0.5-2.2, p= 0.97). Conclusions: Asthma during pregnancy is a risk factor for LBW outcomes in BNH but not WNH women. The increased alcohol and illicit drug use in BNH women with asthma is an unexpected finding that deserves further study. © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.