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Infant weight gain tied to wheezing and asthma risk

Heavier infants are more likely to develop recurrent wheezing by the age of three years, which puts them at increased risk of asthma later on.

Infant weight gain tied to wheezing and asthma risk

Heavier infants are more likely to develop recurrent wheezing by the age of three years, which puts them at increased risk of asthma later on. Several studies in the past have linked obesity to asthma, but most have looked at only a single point in time, so it was not clear whether or not obesity led to asthma or vice versa. To better understand the relationship, researchers in America followed 932 children from birth to three years of age. It was found that the greater an infant's weight for his/her length (height) at six months exceeded the average, the more likely the child's parents were to report recurrent wheezing. Asthma risk also rose with weight for length, but the relationship wasn't as strong, probably because children are rarely diagnosed with asthma before the age of five years. Before the age of five years, most physicians diagnose wheezing. For example, if two six-month-old boys are both of average length (67 cm, or about 26 inches), if one child weighed 8.4 kg (18.5 pounds), he would be 46 per cent more likely to have recurrent wheezing by the age of three years than the other child, if he was an average weight (7.7 kg or 17 pounds). The findings suggest that excess infant weight increases children's risk of asthma-related symptoms. There are a number of ways that excess fat could contribute to asthma risk, for example by affecting inflammation or even making it more difficult for a child to fully expand his or her lungs. Thus, early interventions are required to prevent excess deposits of fats in infants. However, further research is required on what precautions parents should adopt to help their babies gain the right amount of weight as they grow.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,
May 2008
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