Pregnant women who are obese put their children at higher risk of developing asthma compared to mothers of normal weight, a large study in Sweden has found.
The study, which covered over 129,000 mothers in Stockholm and their 189,000 children, found that mothers who were very obese, or with a body mass index of 35 and over, had a 61 percent increased risk of their children developing asthma by the time they were between 8 and 10 years of age.
“We found that there was a clear increased risk of childhood asthma, medication use and hospitalization with increasing degree of obesity and overweight in mothers in early pregnancy,” said lead author Adrian Lowe from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and University of Melbourne.
“Obese mothers had a 41 percent increase in the odds compared to normal weight mothers ... those who were a little overweight had 18 percent increased chance,” Lowe told Reuters by telephone.
The study, which was conducted by both Australian institutes and Umea University in Sweden, was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Obesity Increases Risks in Pregnancy
Leading birth defects specialists say maternal obesity during pregnancy puts both mom and baby at risk, and they are calling on health care providers to spread the message.
Studies indicate obesity doubles a woman’s chances of having a baby with neural tube defects, and even adequate folic acid intake does not fully protect against the increase in risk.
Compared with normal-weight women, obese women have a greater risk of developing complications during pregnancy. Their babies are also more likely to be admitted to neonatal intensive care units.
In a report published today, the public affairs committee of the Teratology Society officially declared obesity a pregnancy risk factor, adding that women should be told about the risk in the same way that they are warned about the dangers of smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy. The Teratology Society studies the causes and processes of birth defects to improve diagnosis and prevention.
“Just as clinicians have been encouraged to counsel women who are pregnant or may become pregnant about folic acid, smoking cessation, and avoidance of [alcohol], [we] recommend that clinicians counsel women about appropriate caloric intake and exercise,” the report noted.
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Health News
Lowe explained that maternal obesity increases the child’s risk of obesity, which influences the infant’s immune system and its responses toward allergies.
Pregnancy More Risky for Heavy Women
There are new reasons to control your weight both before and after you conceive - particularly if you’re heavy before you even try to have a baby.
Obesity promotes not only severe pregnancy complications in the mother, it also places the baby at high risk of health problems, including an increased chance of neonatal death.
That’s the sobering news from a group of Swedish researchers who say that not only is it important to control weight gain during pregnancy, but to also get your level of body fat under control before you attempt to conceive.
“[We are hopeful] that knowing the problems concerning pregnancy and delivery associated with obesity could possibly motivate young women to prevent excessive weight gain,” says study author Dr. Marie Cendergren. She is an obstetrician in the division of obstetrics and gynecology at Linkoping University, where the research was conducted.
The findings appear in the February issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
by Colette Bouchez
“The results suggest that campaigns to reduce obesity prior to conception may have a beneficial effect on childhood asthma,” Lowe said.
By Tan Ee Lyn