OUP user menu

Body build from birth to adulthood and risk of asthma

Baizhuang Xu, Juha Pekkanen, Jaana Laitinen, Marjo‐Riitta Järvelin
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/12.3.166 166-170 First published online: 1 September 2002


Background: Few reports aimed at the study of adulthood obesity and asthma have taken into account the effects of size at birth and obesity in adolescence. This paper examines the combined effect of size at birth and obesity in both adolescence and adulthood on the risk of asthma at age 31 years. Methods: The study was derived from a prospectively population‐based Finnish birth cohort born in 1966, for which data were collected in pregnancy and at various ages. Adulthood doctor‐diagnosed asthma with current symptoms and results of skin prick tests were obtained in 1997. The analysis was limited to 4719 subjects with complete information on asthma and atopy and anthropometric measures at various ages. Results: Ponderal index at birth had a U‐shaped association with adult atopy, OR 1.30 (95% CI: 1.11–1.52) for the lowest tertile and OR 1.33 (95% CI: 1.13–1.55) for the highest tertile, as compared to the middle tertile. The association was independent of obesity later in life. Those obese (BMI ≥95th percentile) in adolescence (OR 2.09, 95% CI: 1.23–3.57) and in adulthood (OR 1.99, 95% CI: 1.14–3.47) had a higher occurrence of adult asthma than those with BMI <85th percentile. Both estimates were reduced after mutual adjustment. Conclusions: Size at birth has a long‐lasting effect on atopy in adulthood, which is independent of weight in adolescence and adulthood. Those who were obese in adolescence and adulthood tended to have a higher risk of asthma in adulthood. These findings underline the importance of considering the life course of obesity in the analyses of asthma and atopy.

  • adolescence; adulthood; anthropometrics; asthma; atopy; birth cohort; obesity; size at birth

Received 14 March 2001. Accepted 3 September 2001.