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Birth anthropometric measures, body mass index and allergic diseases in a birth cohort study (BAMSE)
  1. Xiao-Mei Mai1,
  2. Catarina Almqvist4,
  3. Lennart Nilsson5,
  4. Magnus Wickman2
  1. 1
    Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
  2. 2
    National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. 4
    Department of Woman and Child Health and Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  4. 5
    Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Division of Paediatrics, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  1. Xiao-Mei Mai, 504F John Buhler Research Centre, 715 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 3P5; xmai{at}


Objective: We aimed to assess increased birth weight or birth length in relation to allergic diseases at 4 years of age, taking body mass index (BMI) at age 4 as a covariate in the adjustment.

Methods: The parents of a large prospective birth cohort answered questionnaires on environmental factors and allergic symptoms when their children were 2 months and 1, 2 and 4 years old. Perinatal data on weight and length at birth were received from the child care health centres. The children were clinically examined at 4 years of age and height and weight recorded. Blood was drawn for analysis of specific IgE antibodies to common inhalant allergens. Risk associations between birth anthropometric measures and wheeze, allergic diseases or sensitisation were estimated in multivariate logistic regression analyses (n = 2869).

Results: There were no clear overall associations between birth weight and allergic diseases at 4 years of age. Birth length ⩾90th percentile was inversely associated with any wheeze at age 4 (adjusted OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.44 to 0.92) but was significantly associated only with late-onset wheeze (adjusted OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.77). No such associations were seen for persistent or transient wheeze, eczema, rhinitis or allergic sensitisation. Transient wheeze during the first 2 years of age tended to be associated with increased BMI at age 4.

Conclusion: Increased birth weight was not associated with wheeze or allergic disease. Increased birth length may play a protective role in late-onset wheeze in early childhood.

  • allergy
  • birth anthropometry
  • birth cohort
  • body mass index
  • wheeze

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  • Funding: This study was supported by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, the Konsul ThC Bergh Foundation, Stockholm County Council, the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association Research Foundation, and the Swedish Foundation for Health Care Sciences and Allergy Research. Catarina Almqvist was funded by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation and the Swedish Society of Medicine. The sponsor of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or in the writing of the report.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    body mass index
    confidence interval
    gestational age
    odds ratio
    socio-economic index

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