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Early growth seems to be important for the risk of respiratory diseases in childhood and adulthood. A recent meta-analysis reported that low birth weight is associated with impaired lung function and asthma in childhood, and that these associations are partly explained by gestational age at birth.1 Low birth weight seems also associated with impaired lung function and increased risks of asthma and chronic obstructive airway disease in adulthood.2 Although birth weight is an important early growth measure and may reflect early development, it has important limitations. Birth weight is the end point of fetal growth and the beginning of infant growth.
Different prospective cohort studies have recently been set up to disentangle the association of early growth with respiratory diseases at later ages. A prospective birth cohort study showed that a higher fetal crown–rump length in first trimester was associated with a lower risk of wheezing, asthma and higher lung volumes.3 ,4 Also, a greater abdominal circumference during second half of pregnancy was associated with lower risk of atopic wheezing,5 whereas a higher femur length in second trimester was associated with lower risk of asthma.3 However, when individual fetal growth characteristics were combined into estimated fetal weight, associations of fetal weight growth with childhood wheezing or asthma were not consistent.4 ,6 ,7 Restricted fetal weight growth was associated with higher …
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