The children of mothers who overweight or obese when they become pregnant are more likely to have asthma or wheezing as teenagers, according to a team of researchers including Swatee Patel from the University of Greenwich.
A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that there was an increased risk of 20 to 30 per cent, compared with women who have a healthy pre-pregnancy weight
Swatee Patel, Principal Lecturer in Statistics in the University of Greenwich's School of Health & Social Care, analysed data from almost 7,000 15 and 16-year-olds born in northern Finland.
The study also suggested that the heavier the women, the greater the risk of wheezing and asthma-like symptoms. Those with a history of allergies also have a much higher risk of their children having chest problems.
Swatee Patel says: "Our research has shown that overweight or obese women, who become pregnant are more likely to have children who suffer from asthma or wheeze in their teenage years. The heaviest mothers were 47 per cent more likely to have children with severe wheezing compared to normal weight mothers. Our findings suggest that being overweight may interfere with normal fetal development as a result of disrupted metabolic or hormonal activity. This could partly contribute towards the rising rates of chronic asthma suffered by children. These new findings add to a long list of damaging effects of obesity, not only in the mothers but in their children."
The mothers were questioned when they were 12 weeks pregnant about their lifestyle, social background, and educational achievements. Medical data on height and weight before pregnancy was also examined.
The study was carried out with colleagues from Imperial College London, and institutions in Finland including the National Public Health Institute, University of Oulu and the University Hospital of Oulu.
- S. P. Patel, A. Rodriguez, M. P. Little, P. Elliott, J. Pekkanen, A.-L. Hartikainen, A. Pouta, J. Laitinen, T. Harju, D. Canoy, M.-R. Jarvelin. Associations between pre-pregnancy obesity and asthma symptoms in adolescents. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 2011; DOI: 10.1136/jech.2011.133777
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