Children whose mothers had anxiety and depression during pregnancy may have an increased risk of developing asthma at 10 years of age, according to a new prospective cohort study of over 4000 children. Results showed a 46-91% increased risk of asthma and lower lung function in children whose mothers experienced stress or depression while pregnant. Paternal stress was not associated with risk of asthma in children. The study authors suggest that excess production of glucocorticoids in pregnant women experiencing depression or stress can overstimulate the fetal hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and disrupt fetal development. Glucocorticoid-regulated genes are key to fetal lung development and an alteration in the process can contribute to impaired lung function.
In our clinic, we’ve focused on how various factors, including stress, affect epigenetics. Our Methylation, Diet and Lifestyle eBook was designed specifically to support healthy epigenetic expression using methyl donor foods, methylation adaptogens, and lifestyle support to address the state of chronic stress we see in our patients.
Kara Fitzgerald, ND, received her doctor of naturopathic medicine degree from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She completed the first Counsel on Naturopathic Medicine-accredited post-doctorate position in nutritional biochemistry and laboratory science at Metametrix Clinical Laboratory under the direction of Richard Lord, PhD. Her residency was completed at Progressive Medical Center, a large, integrative medical practice in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Fitzgerald is the lead author and editor of Case Studies in Integrative and Functional Medicine and is a contributing author to Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine and the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM)’s Textbook for Functional Medicine. With the Helfgott Research Institute, Dr. Fitzgerald is actively engaged in clinical research on the DNA methylome using a diet and lifestyle intervention developed in her practice. The first publication from the study focuses on reversal of biological aging and was published 04-12-2021 in the journal Aging. She has published a consumer book titled Younger You as well as a companion cookbook, Better Broths and Healing Tonics and has an application-based Younger You Program, based on the study.
Dr. Fitzgerald is on the faculty at IFM, is an IFM Certified Practitioner and lectures globally on functional medicine. She runs a Functional Nutrition Residency program, and maintains a podcast series, New Frontiers in Functional Medicine and an active blog on her website, www.drkarafitzgerald.com. Her clinical practice is in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
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