Early life weight gain and development of childhood asthma in a prospective birth cohort

Hui Ju Tsai, Guoying Wang, Xiumei Hong, Tsung Chieh Yao, Yuelong Ji, Sally Radovick, Hongkai Ji, Tina L. Cheng, Xiaobin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Rationale: The prevalence of childhood asthma has been increasing worldwide in parallel with childhood obesity. Objectives: We investigated whether there is a temporal relationship between early life weight gain (reflecting growth velocity) and early life body mass index (BMI) attained status (reflecting accumulative weight) with future risk of asthma in the Boston Birth Cohort. Methods: This report includes 1,928 children from the Boston Birth Cohort with a mean age of 7.8 years (standard deviation, 3.3 yr), enrolled at birth and followed prospectively. Asthma was defined using physician diagnosis code (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification code 493.xx) in children 2 years and older. We categorized the children by their weight gain trajectory on the basis of changes in z-scores: slow (less than 20.67), on track (20.67 to 0.67), rapid (0.67–1.28), and extremely rapid (.1.28); and by their BMI attained status (underweight, normal weight, and overweight) during the first 4, 12, and 24 months. Poisson regression models with robust variance estimation were applied to examine the relationship between early life weight gain/attained BMI and asthma. Results: During the first 4 months of life, 37% had on-track weight grain, 22% had slow weight gain, 15% had rapid weight gain, and 26% had extremely rapid weight gain. At 4 months, 61% were normal weight, 7% were underweight, and 32% were overweight. In adjusted analyses, extremely rapid early life weight gain during the first 4 and 24 months of life were each associated with increased risks of asthma (risk ratio, 1.34 for extremely rapid weight gain at 4 months; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06–1.70; risk ratio, 1.32 for extremely rapid weight gain at 24 months; 95% CI, 1.00–1.75) Similarly, overweight at 4, 12, and 24 months were each associated with an increased risk of asthma. Analyses that further adjusted for birthweight or preterm birth showed similar findings. Conclusions: In this predominantly urban U.S. low-income minority birth cohort, excessive early life weight gain and overweight status were both associated with an increased risk of asthma in childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1197-1204
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Asthma
  • Prospective birth cohort
  • Weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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