A study published in the journal Pediatrics, reports that maternal obesity or weight gain during pregnancy is associated with an increase in risk of childhood asthma
With the rising rates of obesity, a greater number of expectant mothers are either obese, or gain a substantial amount of weight during pregnancy. Maternal obesity and weight gain have been associated with several negative health outcomes, including: hypertension, gestational diabetes, increased risk of surgical intervention during delivery, low birthweight, and preterm birth.
Fetal development can also be impacted by maternal obesity and weight gain, for example increases in the risk of neural tube defects. There has been a greater focus on in-utero factors that impact on fetal development in recent years. Both environmental and genetic factors contribute to the development of asthma. Some studies have pointed to a role of maternal obesity and weight gain in the development of childhood asthma. To quantitatively estimate the effects of obesity and weight gain on childhood asthma, researchers have pooled and analysed all available data on maternal obesity and links to asthma in children. A total of 14 studies were included in the analysis, making up over 100 000 mothers and children.
The analysis found that maternal obesity in pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of asthma and wheeze. The researchers calculated that for every 1kg/m2 increase in BMI of the mother, there was a corresponding 2-3% increase in the chance of the child developing asthma. The same effects were not seen in mothers who were underweight during their pregnancy.
The researchers also assessed maternal weight gain during pregnancy, finding that maternal weight gain during pregnancy was also associated with an increase in the risk of the child developing asthma.
Forno, E, Young, OM, Kumar, R, Simhan, H, Celedón, JC. “Maternal Obesity in Pregnancy, Gestational Weight Gain, and Risk of Childhood Asthma” Pediatrics. 2014 Aug;134(2):e535-46. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0439. Epub 2014 Jul 21.
Image courtesy of Jomphong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD