Maternal childhood and lifetime traumatic life events and infant bronchiolitis

Margaret A. Adgent, Omar Elsayed-Ali, Tebeb Gebretsadik, Frances A. Tylavsky, Mehmet Kocak, Stephania A. Cormier, Rosalind J. Wright, Kecia N. Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Viral bronchiolitis is a common respiratory infection that often affects term, otherwise healthy infants. A small literature suggests maternal stress during pregnancy is associated with bronchiolitis. However, the association between maternal exposure to lifetime traumatic stress, including traumatic events occurring in childhood or throughout the life course, and bronchiolitis has not been studied previously. Objectives: To investigate the association between maternal exposure to total lifetime and childhood traumatic stress events and infant bronchiolitis. Methods: We studied mother-infant dyads enrolled in a prospective prenatal cohort, recruited 2006-2011, and Tennessee Medicaid. During pregnancy, we assessed maternal lifetime exposure to types of traumatic events by questionnaire. We captured bronchiolitis diagnoses in term, non-low birthweight infants’ first 12 months using linked Medicaid data. In separate models, we assessed the association of maternal lifetime traumatic events (0 to 20 types) and a subset of traumatic events that occurred during childhood (0 to 3: family violence, sexual, and physical abuse) and infant bronchiolitis using multivariable log-binomial models. Results: Of 629 women, 85% were African American. The median count (interquartile range) of lifetime traumatic events was 3 (2, 5); 42% reported ≥1 childhood traumatic event. Among infants, 22% had a bronchiolitis diagnosis (0 to 2 lifetime traumatic events: 24%; 3 events: 20%; 4 to 5 events: 18%; 6 or more events: 24%). Total maternal lifetime traumatic events were not associated with bronchiolitis in multivariable analyses. For maternal childhood traumatic events, the risk of infant bronchiolitis increased with number of event types reported: adjusted Risk ratios were 1.12 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.80, 1.59), 1.31 (95% CI 0.83, 2.07), and 2.65 (95% CI 1.45, 4.85) for 1, 2, and 3 events, respectively, vs none. Conclusions: Infants born to women reporting multiple types of childhood trauma were at higher risk for bronchiolitis. Further research is needed to explore intergenerational effects of traumatic experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-270
Number of pages9
JournalPaediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • infant
  • intergenerational
  • psychological trauma
  • respiratory tract diseases
  • trauma and stressor related disorders


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