Maternal obesity and risk of asthma in children |
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Maternal obesity and risk of asthma in children
Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India,  23 May 2022
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Maternal obesity prior to becoming pregnant increases the risk for wheeze in the children, suggests a study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.1 No association was noted for gestational weight gain and asthma or allergy in childhood.

In this study, researchers included 5939 children from Upstate KIDS study, which involves children born in New York. Symptoms of wheeze or asthma, allergy or eczema were reported by the mothers at 3 years and at 7-9 years of age. Maternal prepregnancy body weight and self-reported gestational weight gain were examined.

At 3 years of age, 39% children had any atopy and analysis of the manifestation of atopy, it was found that 0.8% children had persistent wheeze, 28.2% had atopic dermatitis, while 10.2% had some food allergy.

Compared to pre-pregnancy normal weight mothers, a significant association was noted between pre-pregnancy BMI and the risk of persistent wheeze at 3 months, after adjusting for maternal atopy with adjusted risk ratio of 1.58 for class I obesity and 1.69 for class II and III obesity.

Mothers who were overweight before pregnancy were more likely to report allergy in their children versus mothers who had normal pre-pregnancy weight with an adjusted risk ratio of 1.72. Data revealed no association between gestational weight gain and high risk of persistent wheeze in early childhood or asthma in middle childhood.

This study of more than 5000 children shows an association between asthma and/or allergy in children and the weight of the mother before the pregnancy. It does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. But it does point out the need for mothers to maintain a healthy body weight given its effect on the health of their children.


  1. Polinski KJ, et al. Maternal obesity, gestational weight gain and offspring asthma and atopy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2022 May 9:S1081-1206(22)00397-0. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2022.04.032.
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