Rapid growth in infancy is associated with increased asthma risk in childhood

Published Online: Janaury 7, 2015

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. Although many factors are known to be associated with asthma, its cause is still not known. However, there is growing evidence that events in early childhood could be critical for asthma development. Notably, the rate of fetal growth and low birth weight have both been associated with asthma. In a study recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Sonnenschein-van der Voort and colleagues report the results of a study of early postnatal growth and asthma development through childhood.

The study involved 9,723 children who were participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a longitudinal cohort study that has followed children from birth to adolescence. Detailed information on height and weight gain from birth was available, as were later questionnaire responses relating to asthma symptoms and clinical measurements of lung function and airway responsiveness.

The authors found that rapid weight gain from birth to age 3 months was consistently associated with reported asthma, lower lung function and increased airway responsiveness at ages 8 and 15 years. In contrast, rapid weight gain between 3 and 7 years was associated with higher lung function at age 15 years.

The mechanisms that underlie these associations are still unclear. They may be related to abnormal development of the lungs or the immune system associated with rapid weight gain, but further studies will be required to confirm these findings.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

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