Background: The immediate postnatal period is the period of the fastest growth in the entire life span and a critical period for lung development. Therefore, it is interesting to examine the association between growth during this period and childhood respiratory disorders.
Methods: We examined the association of peak weight and height velocity to age 36 months with maternal report of current asthma at 36 months (n = 50,311), recurrent lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) by 36 months (n = 47,905) and current asthma at 7 years (n = 24,827) in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Peak weight and height velocity was calculated using the Reed1 model through multilevel mixed-effects linear regression. Multivariable log-binomial regression was used to calculate adjusted relative risks (adj.RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). We also conducted a sibling pair analysis using conditional logistic regression.
Results: Peak weight velocity was positively associated with current asthma at 36 months [adj.RR 1.22 (95%CI: 1.18, 1.26) per standard deviation (SD) increase], recurrent LRTIs by 36 months [adj.RR 1.14 (1.10, 1.19) per SD increase] and current asthma at 7 years [adj.RR 1.13 (95%CI: 1.07, 1.19) per SD increase]. Peak height velocity was not associated with any of the respiratory disorders. The positive association of peak weight velocity and asthma at 36 months remained in the sibling pair analysis.
Conclusions: Higher peak weight velocity, achieved during the immediate postnatal period, increased the risk of respiratory disorders. This might be explained by an influence on neonatal lung development, shared genetic/epigenetic mechanisms and/or environmental factors.