Infancy Weight Gain May be Linked to Asthma

Asthma risk linked to early infancy weight gain acceleration

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

(RxWiki News) What happens in the womb is important for a child's development. Early infancy is just as important, especially when it comes to the development of childhood asthma.

Early infancy weight gain acceleration was linked to an increased risk of developing childhood asthma. The researchers conclude that early infancy may be an important time in determining asthma development.

"Ask your pediatrician about what are the early signs of childhood asthma."

The study was led by Liesbeth Duijts, M.D., Ph.D., from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. The observational study, a part of the Generation R Study, followed 5,125 children from the womb to four years old. Asthma symptoms were evaluated yearly.

The Generation R Study is a population-based observational study from fetal life to young adulthood.

Researchers found no connection between fetal length and weight gain in different trimesters with an increased risk of developing asthma. While weight gain in the womb was not a factor for developing asthma, it was a factor during early infancy.

Weight gain between birth and three months, following normal fetal development, was linked to an increased risk of developing asthma symptoms. This included childhood wheezing, shortness of breath, and persistent phlegm. The link between weight gain and asthma risk was independent of any other fetal development patterns.

The association between weight gain and childhood asthma was strongest in mothers with no asthma symptoms. The increased risk of asthma development was not confined to fetal-growth restricted infants according to Dr. Duijts. Fetal-growth restricted infants are infants whose weight is less than 90 percent of other infants of the same age.

Dr. Duijts is unsure of the connection between weight gain and asthma development but believes it may have to do with lung growth. The increased weight gain may negatively affect normal lung growth, affecting the immune system which may lead to asthma symptoms.

More studies are needed to better understand the link between weight gain and the increased risk of developing asthma. The study noted that it had some limitations including self-reported asthma symptoms and possible calculation errors when it came to fetal weight.

Low birth weight increased the risk of developing asthma, according to Dr. Duijts. This new study furthers the understanding of how important early infancy is to the development of asthma.  

The Generation R Study was funded by  Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development. No known conflicts were reported.

This study was published in the January edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 20, 2012
Last Updated:
January 23, 2012