Background:Previous studies indicate that maternal anxiety is associated with asthma in the adolescent child, but mechanisms are unclear.Objective:To investigate the association between maternal anxiety and maternal, self- and register-based report of asthma in the adolescent child, and whether the association remains after control of familial confounding (shared environmental and genetic factors).Method:From the Twin and Offspring Study of Sweden, 1691 mothers (1058 twins) and their adolescent child were included. The association between maternal self-reported anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP) somatic or psychic anxiety) and asthma based on subjective (maternal or child report) or objective (register-based diagnosis and medication) measures were analysed using logistic regression. The children-of-twins design was used to explore whether genes or environment contribute to the association.Results:Maternal BAI anxiety (OR 2.02, CI 1.15-3.55) was significantly associated with adolescent asthma reported by the mother. Maternal KSP somatic anxiety (OR 1.74, CI 1.04-2.91) and psychic anxiety (OR 1.74, CI 1.05-2.86) was significantly associated with breathlessness reported by the adolescent child. In contrast, maternal anxiety was not associated with increased risk for the register-based outcomes of asthma diagnosis or medication. The results remained also after adjusting for covariates and the children-of-twins analyses which indicate that the association was due to familial confounding.Conclusions:We found some associations between maternal anxiety and subjectively reported offspring asthma or breathlessness which may be due to familial effects. A likely candidate for explaining this familial confounding is heritable personality traits associated with both anxiety and subjective measures of asthma.
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