Excessive weight gain during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk for childhood asthma and allergy.
Chinese researchers studied 15,145 mother-child pairs in Shanghai, tracking gestational weight gain and childhood health over an average of almost eight years. The study is in JAMA Network Open.
They found that compared with mothers who gained the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy — about 22 to 33 pounds for a normal weight woman — children of those whose mothers gained 33 to 55 pounds had a 13 percent increased risk of asthma, allergic rhinitis or food or drug allergy, and a 9 percent increased risk of eczema.
When a woman gained more than 55 pounds, the risk of childhood asthma increased by 22 percent, of allergic rhinitis by 14 percent, of eczema by 15 percent and of a food or drug allergy by 21 percent compared with normal pregnancy weight gain. These risks were even higher in women who were overweight before pregnancy.
The study adjusted for maternal income, smoking, alcohol intake and a family history of allergy, among other factors.
The lead author, Yiting Chen, of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said that about 25 percent of the global population has allergies, and that anything that minimizes them is important.
“Even if children are genetically allergic,” he said, “early effective intervention measures can still reduce the occurrence of allergic diseases, so that children grow up healthily.”