Obesity during pregnancy may negatively affect children’s lung development, according to new research. The study, published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology-;Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, was chosen as an APSselect article for July.
Research shows that babies born to overweight people are more likely to develop respiratory conditions ranging from recurring lung infections to chronic lung diseases, including asthma. These risk factors may occur in part because these infants have been found to produce less of a chemical called “surfactant,” which keeps the air sacs in the lungs open. In addition, people with obesity may have a surplus of leptin, a hormone secreted by fat tissue. Leptin is known to regulate appetite but also impairs the development of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis plays a significant role in lung development, therefore “interruption of this temporally sensitive process could result in permanent deficits in lung development and/or function,” researchers from The Ohio State University wrote.
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