Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Thomas Mason, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Russell Kirby, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Hamisu Salihu, Ph.D., M.D.

Committee Member

Dennis Ledford, M.D.


asthma, dermatitis, low birth weight, preterm birth, rhinitis, small for gestational age


Objectives – To measure the effect of non – asthmatic atopy (NAA) on the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes; low birth weight (LBW), small for gestational age (SGA) and preterm birth (PTB), among primiparous women 19 – 25 years of age.

Methods – Vital Statistics records from births occurring between 2004 and 2014, from approximately 60,000 primiparous women in South Carolina, aged 19 to 25 years, were linked to their Medicaid records. Maternal records were examined to determine if they had a previous diagnosis of NAA. Women with a diagnosis of NAA were frequency matched with a ratio of 1:4 to non – atopic controls by age, sex of infant, and asthma diagnosis. Next, the frequencies of LBW, SGA and PTB were compared across the two groups of women. Tests for linear trend across birth weight categories and gestational age at birth categories were then conducted after which separate Poisson regression models were estimated to measure the risk of each outcome.

Results – Linear tests for increasing trend were statistically significant (p < 0.001); indicating that higher percentages of NAA are associated with higher infant birth weight. Similarly, higher percentages of NAA were associated with greater gestational age at birth. After controlling for maternal race/ethnicity, smoking during pregnancy, gestational diabetes and pre – pregnancy hypertension; mothers with a diagnosis of NAA had reduced risk for each outcome (RR = 0.96, 0.94 and 0.95 for LBW, SGA and PTB respectively). These results were not statistically significant (p > 0.05). Similar results were seen when data was further explored by maternal race/ethnicity.

Conclusions – NAA could promote a healthy pregnancy and reduce the risk of adverse outcomes and should therefore be taken into account when assessing a woman’s risk of same. Until now this protection has gone unnoticed due to the increase in the risk of study outcomes that are associated with a diagnosis of asthma, and the fact that in many instances asthma is present with NAA. Additional analyses are needed to evaluate unknown factors associated with its diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: rhinitis, dermatitis, asthma, low birth weight, small for gestation age, preterm birth, race/ethnicity