Perinatal programming of childhood asthma: early fetal size, growth trajectory during infancy, and childhood asthma outcomes

Clin Dev Immunol. 2012;2012:962923. doi: 10.1155/2012/962923. Epub 2012 Feb 8.


The "fetal origins hypothesis" or concept of "developmental programming" suggests that faltering fetal growth and subsequent catch-up growth are implicated in the aetiology of cardiovascular disease. Associations between reduced birth weight, rapid postnatal weight gain, and asthma suggest that there are fetal origins to respiratory disease. The present paper first summarises the literature relating birth weight and post natal growth trajectories to asthma outcomes. Second, issues regarding the interpretation of antenatal fetal ultrasound measurements are discussed. Finally, recent reports linking antenatal measurement and growth trajectory to early childhood asthma outcomes are discussed. Understanding the nature and timing of factors which influence antenatal growth may give important insight into the antecedents of early-onset asthma with implications for interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Asthma / embryology
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Birth Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Development*
  • Fetus
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Perinatology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prognosis
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain