Children who gain weight very quickly tend to have poorer lung function later
How much children grow in the first three years of their lives, determines how developed their lungs become. It also affects their risk of asthma at 10 years.
This is the main conclusion of a new study carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Early infancy is a critical age for the subsequent development of respiratory diseases in childhood and later life. Recent studies have shown that excessive weight gain in the first years of life can be associated with lower lung function and a higher risk of childhood asthma.
The new study, published in Thorax, examined whether early childhood growth patterns – ascertained by taking repeated weight and height measurements during the first three years of the child’s life–affected respiratory health at the age of 10 years.
“Later the children reached their peak body mass index, the better their lung function and, in the case of boys, the lower the risk of asthma,”
“The findings show that the infants with the highest weight gain velocity and body mass index had lower lung function at 10 years of age,” commented Maribel Casas, researcher at ISGlobal and Erasmus MC and lead author of the study. “Specifically, we observed that these children had a lower function related to the smaller airways in relation to their total lung volume. Although we did not observe any relationship between height and weight growth and the risk of asthma, this disproportionate development of lung function could be a risk factor for the development of respiratory disease.”
The study also found that “the later the children reached their peak body mass index, the better their lung function and, in the case of boys, the lower the risk of asthma,” explained Casas.
“These results confirm that early childhood growth plays an important role in lung development,” he added.