Weight gain in babies increases asthma risk

Taryn Davies
Published: January 9, 2015

Babies who gain a lot of weight in their first three months could be at high risk of developing asthma, according to a new study.

Researchers believe that rapidly gaining weight may lead to abnormal development of the child’s lungs or immune system.

The condition is more likely to develop in people aged eight to 17 if they put on a lot of weight in the first three months, found the University of Bristol study.

These babies are also shown to be more likely to develop lower lung function and increased the responsiveness of the airways, both of which have been linked to the condition.

In contrast, fast weight gain in children aged between three and seven was associated with higher lung function at 15 years old.

Asthma affects around 1.1 million children and 4.3 million adults in the UK and according to Asthma UK, Britain has some of the highest rates of asthma in Europe and three people die from the condition each day.

The Bristol University team said in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical ­Immunology: “We recommend GPs check a child’s personal growth curve if they come to them with asthma-related symptoms.”

Many factors are associated with an increased risk of asthma but the cause of the condition is still unknown.

The research, which used data from the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol, analysed record for 9,723 people. Current asthma was reported for 13.9% of those aged eight, 132.% at age 14 and 15.3% at age 17.

Dr Agnes Sonnenschein-van der Voort, the lead researcher on the study, said: "It is clear from our research that there is a connection between babies gaining weight quickly in the first three months of life and the risk of them developing asthma later on.

"We are not sure exactly what causes this but it may be that rapid weight gain leads to abnormal development of the lungs or the immune system. Further studies will be required to confirm these findings.

"We would recommend that GPs check a child's personal growth curve if they come to them with asthma-related symptoms and take this into account in their decision to start medication."


The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.