Studies suggest asthma is associated with body mass index (BMI), pubertal development and hormonal status. We used data collected at ages 7, 11, 16 and 33 from the 1958 British Birth Cohort to explore the association of asthma with BMI and pubertal development. Wheeze was considered present at age 7, 11 or 16 if participant's mothers reported ‘ever attacks of asthma or wheezy bronchitis’ and, at age 33, if participants reported ‘wheezing or whistling in the chest’ in the last year. Age of menarche was reported at age 16. The association at each age of wheeze with BMI (<18.5, 18.5<25, 25+) and with age of menarche (<12, 13–14 years, 16+) was assessed in logistic regression models adjusted for parental asthma, father's social class, birth order and smoking (age 33 only). At age 7, 11 and 16, being overweight was associated with wheeze, an association that was stronger and more significant in girls than in boys. Wheeze at age 33 was associated with being overweight at age 33 in both men and women, but there was no consistent evidence that being overweight in childhood was associated with wheeze at the age of 33. Among 4524 girls with information 15.4% had reached menarche by age 12, and 2.2% had not reached menarche by age 16. The prevalence of being overweight at age 11 in the early and late menarche groups was 20.6% and 1.25% respectively, and the prevalence of being underweight at the age of 16 was 3.7% and 47.0%. Early menarche was associated with wheeze at age 11 (OR=1.57, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.09) even in 11-year-old girls with normal BMI. Late, but not early menarche was associated with wheeze at age 16 (OR=2.09, 95% CI 1.17 to 3.73). Neither early nor late menarche was associated with wheeze at age 33 years. At each follow-up of the 1958 birth cohort, wheeze was associated with being overweight in females. Although girls with early menarche were more overweight in childhood, and experienced more wheeze at age 11, there was no evidence that early menarche was associated with wheeze at the age of 33 years.
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