Thought to affect more than 300 million people worldwide, asthma is a condition that experts have spent years trying to understand. Characterized by a narrowing of the airway, this condition can be extremely scary, especially for children. Because it’s a chronic condition, those with this condition will battle with it for the duration of their lives – and battle would be an appropriate term since research indicates that nearly half of all diagnosed struggle to keep their asthma attacks under control.
Previous research has linked an increased risk of asthma to certain factors, like smoking during pregnancy. Now a new study has linked obesity during pregnancy to an increased risk of wheezing, a sharp, whistling sound emitted when breathing that has also linked to an increased susceptibility to asthma. This occurs because the muscles surrounding the airways tense up and become inflamed. In turn, this reduces the passage of airway. The condition is aggravated by exercise, cold air, pollutants and sometimes even stress.
“We are basing this on the assumption that obesity in mothers can be a potential intergenerational risk factor for asthma,” Stefano Guerra, lead author of the study from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, explained to SINC. “Our proposal was to determine whether maternal obesity is associated with a greater risk of early wheezing phenotypes in children.”
Guerra and his team analyzed the data of 1,107 mothers and their children from a Spanish study on infancy and environment. Even after accounting for other factors linked to an increased risk of asthma (child’s birth weight, education, age and smoking status of mother) the study found that children born to mothers who are overweight during pregnancy are at a 14 times greater risk for wheezing during the first 14 months of life than those born to mothers with a normal weight.
Because of this (as well as many other adverse effects of being overweight during pregnancy), Guerra and his team say that mothers should have even more of a reason to lose weight prior to pregnancy and to manage weight as best as possible during pregnancy.
“The independent relationship of obesity before pregnancy with an increased risk of frequent wheezing in children adds more evidence to the effects of fetal exposure and its consequences on asthma-related phenotypes,” Guerra said, who suggested “possible preventative benefits of losing excess weight.”
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