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03-02-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Weight-change patterns not linked to asthma symptoms in children


Free abstract

MedWire News: Weight-change patterns in early life are not associated with asthma symptoms or lung function in young children, study findings suggest.

Writing in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, Ian Paul (Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA) and team explain: “Like obesity, the prevalence of asthma has increased over the past several decades.

However, they add: “While both low birth weight and high body mass index in childhood have been associated with an increased prevalence of asthma… rate of growth during childhood has received little attention.”

To address this, the researchers examined data on 197 children, aged 2–3 years at enrollment with frequent intermittent wheezing, who participated in the Prevention of Early Asthma in Kids (PEAK) study.

Weight-gain patterns among the children were assessed between birth and study enrolment. Accelerated weight gain was defined as weight-for-age gains greater than 0.67 Z-scores, while decelerated and average patterns of weight gain were defined as gains of less than −0.67 Z-scores and –0.67 to 0.67 Z-scores, respectively.

Parental reports of episode-free days, exacerbations, and use of asthma medication in the children up to the age of 6 years were used to evaluate asthma symptoms. The children also underwent pulmonary function tests over the course of the study period.

Between birth and study enrolment, 45% of children demonstrated an accelerated pattern of weight gain, while 42% and 13% had average and decelerated patterns of weight change, respectively.

The researchers found no significant associations between any pattern of early weight change and asthma symptoms. Nor did they find any association between weight-change patterns and lung function in the children.

However, children with a decelerated weight gain pattern tended to have fewer exacerbations requiring systemic corticosteroids (59.8 courses per 100 child years) than those with an average (89.8 courses per 100 child years) or accelerated weight-gain pattern (91.1 courses per 100 child-years).

Similarly, children with a decelerated weight gain pattern had fewer unscheduled physician visits (53.1 visits per 100 child years) than those with an average (98.3 visits per 100 child years) or accelerated weight-gain pattern (108.8 visits per 100 child years).

Paul and team conclude: “Early life patterns of weight change were associated with subsequent asthma exacerbations, but were not associated with asthma symptoms or pulmonary function during the pre-school years for these children at-risk for asthma.”

They add: “If future studies confirm that weight change is associated with asthma exacerbations, interventions could be developed with asthma prevention as a goal.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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