An association between preterm birth and an increased risk of childhood asthma has been demonstrated, but the importance of intrauterine growth retardation on asthma risk is unclear. Using data from Swedish health registers, infant characteristics and childhood asthma were studied. Analyses were made using Mantel-Haenszel methodology with adjustment for year of birth, maternal age, parity, smoking in early pregnancy and maternal body mass index. Preterm birth, birth weight and birth weight for gestational week were analysed and childhood asthma was evaluated from prescriptions of anti-asthmatic drugs. Neonatal respiratory problems and treatment for them were studied as mediating factors. Both short gestational duration and intrauterine growth retardation appeared to be risk factors and seemed to act separately. The largest effect was seen from short gestational duration. Use of mechanical ventilation in the newborn period and bronchopulmonary dysplasia were strong risk factors. A moderately increased risk was also seen in infants born large for gestational age. We conclude that preterm birth is a stronger risk factor for childhood asthma than intrauterine growth disturbances; however, the latter also affects the risk, and is also seen in infants born at term.
Comment In: Eur Respir J. 2013 Nov;42(5):143124178938
Comment In: Eur Respir J. 2013 Nov;42(5):1430-124178937