HealthDay News — Maternal obesity in pregnancy (MOP) and high maternal gestational weight gain (GWG) are associated with an elevated risk of childhood asthma, according to researchers.

“Environmental or lifestyle exposures in utero may influence the development of childhood asthma,” wrote Erick Forno, MD, MPH, of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and colleagues in Pediatrics.

To identify observational studies assessing MOP or increased maternal GWG and the risk of asthma in offspring, the researchers conducted a systematic literature review of 14 studies (including 108,321 mother-child pairs).

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There were higher odds of asthma or wheeze ever (odds ratio, 1.31) or currently (OR, 1.21) associated with MOP. Each 1-kg/m2 increase in maternal BMI was associated with a 2% to 3% increase in the odds of childhood asthma.

The odds were higher in asthma or wheeze ever associated with GWG (OR, 1.16). There was no association between maternal underweight and low GWG and childhood asthma or wheeze. Maternal asthma history showed a negative association of borderline significance in meta-regression (P=0.07). There was significant heterogeneity among existing studies.

“MOP and high GWG are associated with an elevated risk of childhood asthma; this finding may be particularly significant for mothers without asthma history,” wrote the investigators.


  1. Forno E et al. Pediatrics. 2014; doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0439