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Obesity During Pregnancy and Asthma Risk in Kids

Threat of respiratory disease may be up to 30 percent higher, study suggests

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To see how a mother's weight might be linked to the development of asthma in her children, Forno and his colleagues reviewed 14 previously published studies that included over 100,000 mother-child pairs.

The risk of a child having asthma was 36 percent higher for mothers who were obese during pregnancy compared to normal-weight expectant mothers. The study authors suggest that, for women who do not have a history of asthma, the effect of obesity during pregnancy may be an even stronger influence on whether or not a child develops asthma.

Although there appeared to be a slight association between an overweight mom-to-be and asthma in her offspring, the association wasn't statistically significant, according to the study.

Dr. David Mendez, a neonatologist at Miami Children's Hospital, said that this study asks a question that only additional research can answer. Such research would need to take into account the mother's history of asthma and the baby's exposure to cigarette smoke, among other factors, he said.

"This kind of study would take years to do because you have to wait for children to grow up," said Mendez, who was not involved with the study.

"We already know maternal obesity and increased weight during pregnancy are bad for the mother and bad for the baby," he added. Being overweight can result in low-birth-weight infants, preterm delivery and cesarean delivery.

"There are short-term reasons why mothers shouldn't gain too much weight during pregnancy, and now it appears that there may also be long-term benefits to doing that as well," Mendez said.

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