Fetal Growth Not Linked to Childhood Asthma

But, accelerated growth in first three months tied to increased risk of childhood asthma symptoms

TUESDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Fetal growth restriction or acceleration is not associated with asthma symptoms in childhood, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Agnes M.M. Sonnenschein-van der Voort, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data from a population-based prospective cohort study of 5,125 children. Repeated ultrasounds were used to assess second and third trimester fetal growth characteristics. Infant growth was assessed at birth and at the ages of 3, 6, and 12 months. Parental report of asthma symptoms was obtained yearly via questionnaire until the age of 4 years. Fetal restricted and accelerated growth was defined as a negative or positive change of >0.67 standard deviation score.

The researchers found that neither fetal restricted nor accelerated growth were associated with asthma symptoms until the age of 4 years. Subsequent to normal fetal growth, accelerated weight gain from birth to 3 months was associated with an elevated risk of asthma symptoms (odds ratio (OR) for wheezing, 1.44; shortness of breath, 1.32; dry cough, 1.16; and persistent phlegm, 1.30). Early, accelerated weight gain was not associated with an increased risk of eczema (OR, 0.95). These associations tended to be stronger for children of atopic mothers compared with non-atopic mothers, and were independent of other fetal growth patterns.

"Weight gain acceleration in early infancy was associated with increased risks of asthma symptoms in preschool children, independent of fetal growth," the authors write.

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