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Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. Affected individuals respond to certain triggers such as allergens, infections or chemical stimuli with acute seizures and bronchial narrowing. The resulting shortness of breath can be life threatening. But how can suffering occur? Researchers now know that besides environmental factors genetic predisposition also plays a role – for example car exhaust emissions, but also the antenatal influence and diet of children.
The risk is 30 percent higher
Another potential influence factor has now been discovered by Jason Lang from Duke University in Durham and his colleagues: weight. For their research, the researchers analyzed data from 507,496 children between the ages of two and 17 years. Young patients have together more than 19 million doctor visits between 2009 and 2015 – the results of this appointment were entered into the database for research purposes.
The evaluation showed that children with weight problems were significantly more likely to suffer from asthma than healthy weight children. Thus, obese subjects have around 30 percent higher risk of disease. In children who are overweight, but not obese, the risk compared to normal weight is at least 17 percent higher. This relationship persists even after the team calculates other relevant factors such as age, gender or allergies.
Many cases can be prevented?
According to the researchers, this could mean that obesity plays an important role in the development of asthma. Is that true, according to them maybe ten percent of all asthma cases in the US can be avoided – which are associated with about one million people affected. "We can't do anything about many causes, such as genetic predisposition," Lang said. "Obesity and being overweight are risk factors that can be avoided, which is further evidence of the importance of an active lifestyle and healthy weight in children."
As the study authors emphasized, their study was not a controlled clinical trial. Is there actually a causal relationship between obesity and asthma and what mechanism causes damage to overweight lung health has not been seen in further research. "But I think it would be appropriate to suspect causal connections here," Lang said. (Pediatric, 2018)