ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
CANCER
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Smog Tougher on the Obese
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
The Raw Food Diet
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
FITNESS
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Pool Chemicals Raise Kids Allergy, Asthma Risk
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
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Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- A mother's weight may have lasting effects not just on her own health but on the respiratory health of her children as well.

"Children with asthmatic parents are at an increased risk of asthma if the mother is overweight before pregnancy," said H.A. Smit, head of the department of prevention and health services research at the National Institute of Public Health and Environment in the Netherlands.

In fact, Smith and his fellow researchers found that the risk of asthma is 65 percent higher among the offspring of overweight mothers if one or both of the child's parents have a history of the disease.

Smit was to present the findings Tuesday at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting in San Diego.

As many as 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, about 9 million of them children, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Despite advances in treatment, asthma is still responsible for about 5,000 deaths each year in the United States, it says.

Not all children born to parents with asthma go on to develop the airway disease. That happens about 40 percent of the time, the academy reports.

Because the exact causes of asthma are not clear, researchers have looked at a number of factors that might contribute to its development, including maternal smoking, the child's environment and more.

Smit's study sought to assess whether a mother's weight before pregnancy could affect a child's risk for asthma. The study included nearly 4,000 children, who were followed from birth to 8 years of age.

The mothers in the study averaged 30 years old, and almost 21 percent were overweight -- which the researchers defined as have a body mass index higher than 25 -- before becoming pregnant.

Children were considered to have asthma if their parents reported that they'd had at least one attack of wheezing or shortness of breath or had needed inhaled corticosteroids in the previous year. About 14 percent of the children had asthma by age 8.

The researchers adjusted the data to account for confounding factors, such as maternal education, mode of delivery, maternal smoking during pregnancy, duration of breast-feeding, birth weight and the child's current weight, according to Smit.

Although they found no association between maternal weight in children born to parents without asthma, children born to parents with asthma who also had an overweight mother had a 65 percent increased risk of developing asthma.

Though the study was not designed to determine why being overweight might affect a child's risk for asthma, Smit theorized that inflammation could be the connection between the conditions. That's because obesity can encourage inflammation, and inflammation is at the root of asthma.

Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, said that "we don't know exactly what causes or contributes to asthma, but it does look like there are some things that occur in utero that could affect the child later."

But, she said, it may not be the fact that mothers are overweight. It could be something that they're eating that's affecting their children. It's just not clear from this study, she said, adding that that more research needs to be done.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on the causes of asthma.



SOURCES: H.A. Smit, Ph.D., head, Department of Prevention and Health Services Research, National Institute of Public Health and Environment, Bilthoven, the Netherlands; Jennifer Appleyard, M.D., chief, allergy and immunology, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit; May 19, 2009, presentation, 105th International Conference, American Thoracic Society, San Diego

Last Updated: May 19, 2009

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