High birth weight, asthma and atopy at the age of 16 yr

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2008 Sep;19(6):541-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2007.00707.x. Epub 2008 Jan 16.


The association between high birth weight and asthma has been suggested. The Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986, a longitudinal cohort originally including 9479 participants, has been followed up since birth until the age of 16 yr. Using the data of this study, we analyzed the association of high birth weight with asthma and atopic sensitization at the age of 16 yr. The analysis included the 5995 subjects with complete skin prick test data and the 5500 subjects with data on doctor-diagnosed asthma (written questionnaire) at the age of 16 yr. Atopy was defined as at least one positive skin prick test reaction, which definition was also used to separate atopic and non-atopic asthma. There was a significant association between high birth weight (>4510 g) and asthma among the atopic subjects (OR 2.40, 95% CI 1.33-4.32). When looking at atopy, the highest risk was observed among the subjects with highest birth weight category (>4510 g) (OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.05-1.97) and the adjacent (4200-4500 g) birth weight category (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.01-1.53), when compared with the reference category (2500-3340 g). Our results support the notion that high birth weight is associated with an increased risk of asthma and suggest that the association is mostly explained by an increased risk of atopy. The biological mechanisms behind the associations are unknown, but they could be related to obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Birth Weight*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Skin Tests