Fetal Growth, Obesity, and Atopic Disorders in Adolescence: a Retrospective Birth Cohort Study

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2015 Sep;29(5):472-9. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12215. Epub 2015 Jul 28.


Background: Developmental status at birth and subsequent obesity have been implicated in the development of childhood atopic dermatitis (AD) and allergic rhinitis (AR).

Methods: The current study analysed the cohort data of 74 688 junior high school students from a national retrospective birth cohort study in Taiwan. A random 10% sample was selected from singleton livebirths with complete data on the analytical variables of interest. Atopic disorders, including AD and AR, were assessed by questionnaires (International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood). Logistic regression analyses were applied with adjustments for related risk factors.

Results: Among subjects mainly 13-15 years of age, the estimated prevalence was 7.6% for AD and 22.4% for AR. While the role of fetal growth in allergic disorders was less evident, the risk of developing AD and AR were both influenced by a combination of fetal growth status and adolescent body mass index (BMI). Compared with those with normal fetal growth and school-aged BMI, the risk of developing AD increased 64% among adolescents with both restricted fetal growth and high BMI (odds ratio 1.64, 95% confidence interval 1.37, 1.97). The risk for this combination was higher than that for either restricted fetal growth or high BMI alone. Nevertheless, the overall interaction between BMI and fetal growth status on atopic disorders did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: Excessive weight gain could be an important risk factor related to developing atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis during adolescence, especially among infants born small for gestational age.

Keywords: allergic rhinitis; atopic dermatitis; body mass index; obesity; small for gestational age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications*
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / immunology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / epidemiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / etiology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / immunology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / epidemiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / etiology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / immunology
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Weight Gain*