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Obesity Ups Child's Asthma Risk

Breathing problems during sleep may link the two conditions, experts say

TUESDAY, March 15, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Obese children are more likely to suffer asthma and wheezing than other children, according to a new study.

"Compared with those with neither wheeze nor asthma, children with active wheeze had significantly higher BMI (body mass index) and a greater prevalence of obesity," researcher Dr. Loreto G. Sulit, of Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital at Case University School of Medicine in Cleveland, said in a prepared statement.

Reporting in the March issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Sulit's team studied nearly 800 children, aged 8 to 11. Close to 200 of the youngsters experienced bouts of wheezing and/or asthma, while 600 showed no evidence of asthma or wheezing.

Children with these respiratory problems were more likely to be black rather than white and boys rather than girls, the researchers found. They were also more likely to be born prematurely, to have allergies and to be born to mothers who themselves have a history of asthma.

Asthmatic children were also much more likely to be either overweight or statistically obese, the researchers added.

Unrecognized sleep-disordered breathing may explain some of the association between obesity and wheezing in children, Sulit's team note, since obesity is linked to sleep apnea.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, March 15, 2005
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