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Overweight 7-Year-Olds Face Higher Risk of Asthma
Date:12/24/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are overweight or obese during early childhood have a greater risk of having asthma at age 8 than normal-weight kids, a new study finds.

Researchers in Sweden followed more than 2,000 children for eight years, using preschool and school health records to track their height and weight at ages 1 year, 18 months, 4 years and 7 years. Parents completed questionnaires about their child's health, including asthma and allergy status.

Children who had persistently high BMI (body mass index) -- in the 85th percentile or above -- throughout early childhood, or who were normal-weight toddlers but gained weight and had a high BMI at age 7, were more likely to have asthma than kids who had a normal body weight.

However, kids who had a high BMI at an early age -- at 18 months or 4 years -- but slimmed down by age 7 were not at higher risk of asthma than other kids.

"If the children are only overweight during the early period before 4 years of age we do not see an increased risk of asthma during school age," said lead study author Jessica Magnusson, a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm. "However, if they are persistently overweight, or overweight at a later age -- age 7 -- then there is an association with asthma at age 8."

Asthma, characterized by inflammation of the airways, may cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing.

The study is in the January issue of Pediatrics.

At age 8, about 6 percent of the kids in the study had asthma. Those overweight at age 4 and age 7 had a nearly 2.5 times greater risk of having asthma.

Researchers excluded kids who'd had early symptoms of wheezing or had been diagnosed with asthma prior to age 2.

Researchers also took into account parental history of asthma. A high BMI was associated with an increased
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