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Numerous studies have investigated the risk of developing asthma due to early-life experiences and environmental exposures. However, the influence of intrauterine growth restriction and postnatal undernutrition on childhood wheezing/asthma remains unclear. Thus, we examined the effects of both small for gestational age (SGA) and postnatal stunted growth on ever asthma among children in the rural areas in Bangladesh.
Multiple follow-up studies were conducted in a cohort of randomized clinical trial of nutrition interventions during pregnancy (the MINIMat trial). Overall, 1208 and 1697 children were followed-up for asthma at 4.5 and 10 years, respectively. Anthropometric measurements were obtained at various intervals from birth to 10 years of age. Ever asthma was identified using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire.
Results showed that SGA was significantly associated with increased risk of ever asthma at 4.5 and 10 years after adjusting for sex, body mass index, socioeconomic status, family history of asthma, gestational age at birth, mother’s parity, mother’s age at birth and intervention trial arm [odds ratio (OR)=1.97 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.34–2.90) and 1.86 (95% CI: 1.18–2.72)]. For the postnatal effect of undernutrition, stunting at 1 and 2 years was significantly associated with ever asthma at 4.5 and 10 years [1 year: OR=1.77 (95% CI: 1.22–2.57) and OR=1.72 (95% CI: 1.16–2.56), 2 years: OR=1.49 (95% CI: 1.06–2.10) and OR=1.41 (95% CI: 1.02–1.96)].
In conclusion, SGA and undernutrition during infancy has an influence on childhood asthma among children in Bangladesh, indicating the need for nutritional interventions early in life.
Early-life conditions influence organ growth patterns and their functions, as well as subsequent risk for non-communicable chronic diseases in later life. A limited number of studies have determined that in Bangladesh, kidney size relates to its function among children as a consequence of the maternal and postnatal conditions. The present study objectives were to determine early-life conditions in relation to childhood kidney size and to compare their influences on kidney function. The study was embedded in a population-based prospective cohort of 1067 full-term singleton live births followed from fetal life onward. Kidney volume was measured by ultrasound in children at the age of 4.5 years (range 45–64 months), and the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was assessed at the age of 9 years (range 96–116 months). The mean (s.d.) kidney volume of children at 4.5 years was 64.2 (11.3) cm3, with a significant mean difference observed between low birth weight and normal birth weight children (P<0.001). The multivariable model showed, changes in status from low birth weight to normal birth weight children, with kidney volume increases of 2.92 cm3/m2, after adjusting for the child’s age, sex, maternal age and early pregnancy body mass index, and socio-economic index variables. One-unit change in kidney volume (cm3/m2) improved the eGFR to 0.18 ml/min/1.73 m2. The eGFR in low birth weight children was 5.44 ml/min/1.73 m2 less than that in normal birth weight children after adjustments. Low birth weight leads to adverse effects on kidney size and function in children.
Early-life inorganic arsenic exposure influences not only child health and development but also health in later life. The adverse effects of arsenic may be mediated by epigenetic mechanisms, as there are indications that arsenic causes altered DNA methylation of cancer-related genes. The objective was to assess effects of arsenic on genome-wide DNA methylation in newborns. We studied 127 mothers and cord blood of their infants. Arsenic exposure in early and late pregnancy was assessed by concentrations of arsenic metabolites in maternal urine, measured by high performance liquid chromatography-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Genome-wide 5-methylcytosine methylation in mononuclear cells from cord blood was analyzed by Infinium HumanMethylation450K BeadChip. Urinary arsenic in early gestation was associated with cord blood DNA methylation (Kolmogorov–Smirnov test, P-value<10–15), with more pronounced effects in boys than in girls. In boys, 372 (74%) of the 500 top CpG sites showed lower methylation with increasing arsenic exposure (rS-values>−0.62), but in girls only 207 (41%) showed inverse correlation (rS-values>−0.54). Three CpG sites in boys (cg15255455, cg13659051 and cg17646418), but none in girls, were significantly correlated with arsenic after adjustment for multiple comparisons. The associations between arsenic and DNA methylation were robust in multivariable-adjusted linear regression models. Much weaker associations were observed with arsenic exposure in late compared with early gestation. Pathway analysis showed overrepresentation of affected cancer-related genes in boys, but not in girls. In conclusion, early prenatal arsenic exposure appears to decrease DNA methylation in boys. Associations between early exposure and DNA methylation might reflect interference with de novo DNA methylation.
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