Catching a Cold While Pregnant Could Cause Allergies or Asthma in Your Baby 26626

It's winter and cold and flu season is in full swing. Everyone around you has a Rudolph-red and runny nose and you're surrounded by an endless symphony of coughing and sneezing. What's a pregnant woman to do?

As unattractive as it sounds, you may have to pull a Michael Jackson and wear one of those surgical masks this winter—if you don't want your future baby to get asthma, says a recent study published in the February issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. According to a piece by PBS "researchers found a mother's infections and bacterial exposure during pregnancy affect the baby's environment in the womb, increasing a baby's risk of developing allergies and asthma in childhood."

But before you worry your bump off, you also have to consider your genetics—and whether you and your husband have asthma or allergies. Researchers studied 513 pregnant women in Germany, and their 526 children. Questionnaires were completed during pregnancy, when the children were three and 12 months old, and every year up to five years old. Of the families, 61 percent had a parent with asthma, hay fever or atopic dermatitis. The study found that if both of a child's parents have allergies, the child has a 75 per cent chance of being allergic. If one of the parents is allergic, or if a close relative has allergies, the child has a 30 to 40 percent chance of having some form of allergy. If neither parent has allergies, the child's chance is only 10 to 15 percent.

There are some easy ways to try to avoid colds, like the ol' using a napkin to turn the doorknob trick. Whenever you shake someone's hand, make sure to wash yours. Don't touch your nose or eyes (easier said than done!), because that's where sick-causing germs are most likely to get into your body. Get at least 8 hours of sleep, because your body needs its strength to fight off an illness, and don't forget to eat your fruits and veggies, because with each bite you're building up your immune system.

So, yes, take as many precautions as you can, but don't let your fear of a cold stress you out—because that can also affect baby!

TELL US: What are your best cold-fighting tips for fellow mamas-to-be?

 Image of pregnant woman with a cold courtesy of Shutterstock.