Predicting Child's Asthma

Asthma prevalence is higher among children whose mothers where obese prior to pregnacy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) What can be done prior to conception  to decrease the risk of of your child developing asthma? Mothers-to-be should get on an exercise and nutritional program.

A recent European study shows that the high prevalence of children's asthma may be at least in part due to high body mass index (BMI) of the mother prior to her pregnancy.

"Optimal weight prior to pregnancy is good for both baby and you."

This study began In 1986, when almost 7,000 mothers revealed their socio-economic status, educational achievements and lifestyle during their pregnancy. Data, including weight and medical history, was also gathered from midwives after the first prenatal appointment.

Infant and prenatal factors associated with asthma development include:

  •  Birth weight
  •  Single-parent household
  •  Mother smoking
  •  Mother smoking while pregnant
  •  Mother's weight prior to pregnancy

Recently, the children of these mothers were evaluated and screened for asthma: 10 percent had wheezing events within the past year and six percent had already been diagnosed with asthma. When adolescents' mothers had an elevated BMI prior to pregnancy, the offspring had a 30% percent greater chance of wheezing during their mid-teen years.

The authors explain that the study findings do not mean that a high BMI prior to pregnancy has a direct cause and effect relationship with respiratory symptoms in teenagers, but prior research has shown a link between maternal obesity and asthma symptoms in babies and young children in addition to pregnancy complications.

The authors suggest that a high BMI in mothers may impede normal fetal development because their hormonal, metabolic and/or ovarian function are disrupted by obesity.

Additionally, a high BMI is also linked to high levels of the hormone leptin. Leptin is also found in the lungs of a developing fetus, so the development may be impaired by the high level of leptin.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 24, 2011
Last Updated:
October 21, 2012