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Is maternal weight status in pregnancy associated with an increased risk of offspring developing atopic dermatitis?

Published online: November 8, 2018

Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood, affecting approximately 10-20% of children worldwide. This skin condition presents a large burden for children and their families and is a significant cause of decreased quality of life. Current research focuses on what factors contribute to the development of atopic dermatitis and whether intervention to prevent its onset is possible. The peri-natal environment, specifically maternal weight status throughout pregnancy, has been linked to the development of several conditions related to atopic dermatitis, including asthma. However, the relationship with atopic dermatitis remains understudied.

In a recently published study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Drucker et al. explored the association between maternal pre-pregnancy weight (measured as body mass index (BMI)) and weight gain throughout pregnancy, and the risk of atopic dermatitis in offspring through adolescence and young adulthood. The authors used data from the Growing Up Today Study, a large cohort study in the United States, including over 16,000 children ages 9-14, and their mothers.

Drucker et al. found an increased risk of atopic dermatitis in children whose mothers gained more than 35 lbs. in their pregnancy. Being overweight or obese before pregnancy was not associated with an increased risk of atopic dermatitis in offspring, although women who were obese at the start of their pregnancy saw the strongest associations between weight gain in pregnancy and atopic dermatitis in their offspring.

This study suggests that the offspring of mothers with major weight gain during their pregnancy had an increased risk of developing atopic dermatitis. These findings illustrate prenatal care as a possible point of intervention to prevent the development of atopic dermatitis in children.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.