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Small foetus linked to childhood asthma

30th June 2011

A link between the growth of a baby in the womb and the likelihood of developing asthma has been made by researchers.

A team from the University of Aberdeen found that babies that were 10% shorter than average at the 10th week of foetal development were five times more likely to develop asthma.

Links were also found between the growth rate of an unborn baby and the likelihood of developing eczema and hay fever.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and the study funded by the Medical Research Council and Tenovus Scotland.

It followed foetal measurements of 1500 pregnant women at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital in their first trimester (at ten weeks gestation) of pregnancy and in the second trimester (20 weeks).

The children were followed up when they were 10 where 927 families filled in respiratory questionnaires for their child and 449 children underwent lung function and skin prick testing, which tested for allergies to grass, egg, dust mites and cats.

The Aberdeen team discovered that the children with asthma at five and 10 years old had been 5mm or 10% smaller than average as ten week old embryos.

The study was led by Dr Steve Turner, clinical senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen’s department of child health and consultant with NHS Grampian, who said: “Our main finding was that the shortest foetuses in the first trimester were at increased risk for persistent wheeze whereas the longest babies had better lung function at 10 years.”

 

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