Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lower Asthma Risk in Chubby Tots Who Slim Down

From Reuters Health Information By Amy Norton NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Dec 21 - Overweight preschoolers who don't slim down are at a higher asthma risk at age seven, but the baby fat doesn't seem to matter for kids who lose the extra weight, a new study suggests. Of more than 2,000 Swedish children followed to age eight, those who were overweight or obese at age seven - that is, with a body mass index at or above the 85th percentile -- were more likely to have asthma than their thinner peers -- whether or not they were overweight earlier in life. In contrast, children who were heavy as toddlers or at age four, but not at age seven, were no more prone to asthma than kids who'd always been normal-weight. Children who are chubby early in life often see their weight normalize by school age, according to lead researcher Jessica Ohman Magnusson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. But if the extra weight persists after age four, she told Reuters Health in an email, parents may need help in managing their child's weight in a healthy way. A number of studies have found that heavy children have a higher risk of asthma, or more severe symptoms. But whether the extra pounds are the cause is not clear. "We don't think we can say that overweight is causally associated with asthma," Magnusson said. That's because early-childhood pounds were not tied to asthma risk in cases where children eventually became normal-weight, she said. It's possible that other factors, and not weight itself, explain why children who remain heavy have an increased asthma risk. As reported online December 19th in Pediatrics, 6% of the total cohort of eight-year-olds had asthma, compared to 10% of the kids who were overweight at age seven. When the researchers accounted for parents' history of allergies, maternal smoking during pregnancy, and other factors, they found that being overweight at age seven was linked to a doubling in the risk of asthma. That was true regardless of whether the kids were normal weight or heavy at age four. Around 300 children in the study were overweight at some point. But fewer were persistently heavy; 122 children remained overweight from the age of one to age seven. So parents should feel reassured, Magnusson said, that those early extra pounds often do not last. And based on these findings, children whose weight normalizes may not have an increased asthma risk. SOURCE: http://bit.ly/tVwsye

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