Elevated Insulin Levels in Childhood Linked to Asthma Risk Independent of BMI

blood test, vials
blood test, vials
Researchers evaluated the association between blood insulin levels in adolescence and childhood and risk for asthma.

After careful consideration, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology canceled its annual meeting that was to take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from March 13 to 16, because of concerns regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Although the live events will not proceed as planned, our readers can still find coverage of research that was scheduled to be presented at the meeting.

Elevated nonfasting insulin levels in childhood may be linked to increased risk for asthma, independent of obesity status, according to research intended to be presented at the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) Annual Meeting.

Researchers from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, used data from the Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study to investigate whether high insulin levels conferred greater risk for asthma after controlling for obesity. Nonfasting serum insulin levels and body mass index (BMI) were measured in participants aged 6 years, who were eligible for inclusion if they had ≥1 subsequent asthma assessment between ages 6 and 36 years (n=337).

Children with nonfasting insulin levels in the highest quartile were categorized as having high insulin and were compared with children who had nonfasting insulin levels in the lower 3 quartiles, who were categorized as having low insulin.

In generalized estimating equation models, high insulin was not associated with asthma at age 6 years. However, high insulin levels were linked to increased odds of having active asthma from ages 8 to 36 years (odds ratio, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.31-3.2; P =.002) after adjustment for BMI and asthma at 6 years of age. Further adjustment for markers of metabolic syndrome did not affect this finding.

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“Asthma and obesity are major, interconnected public health challenges that usually have their origins in childhood, and for which the relationship is strengthened among those with insulin resistance,” wrote the researchers. Taken together, their results suggest that regardless of BMI, elevated levels of insulin in childhood are linked to incident asthma risk throughout adolescence and adulthood.


Carr T, Stern D, Guerra S, et al. High early childhood insulin increases asthma risk independent of obesity. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020;145(Suppl 2):AB112.

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor