High Insulin in Early Childhood Is Associated with Subsequent Asthma Risk Independent of Body Mass Index

Tara F. Carr, Raquel Granell, Debra A. Stern, Stefano Guerra, Anne L Wright, Marilyn Halonen, John Henderson, Fernando D. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: 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. Objective: To determine whether high insulin in early life confers increased longitudinal risk for asthma independent of body mass index. Methods: The study used data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study (TCRS) and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Nonfasting insulin was measured in TCRS participants at age 6 years and fasting insulin in ALSPAC participants at age 8 years. Physician-diagnosed active asthma was determined at baseline and at subsequent assessments up to age 36 years in TCRS and 17 years in ALSPAC. Results: In TCRS, high insulin (upper quartile) at age 6 years was associated with increased odds of having active asthma from ages 8 to 36 years compared with low insulin (odds ratio,1.98; 95% CI, 1.28-3.05; P =.002). Similarly, in ALSPAC, high insulin was associated with a significantly higher risk of active asthma from ages 11 to 17 years compared with low insulin (odds ratio, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.12-2.27; P =.009). These findings were independent of baseline body mass index in both cohorts, and were not related to other demographic and asthma risk factors nor other tested markers of systemic inflammation and metabolic syndrome. Conclusions: In 2 separate birth cohorts, higher blood insulin level in early childhood was associated with increased risk of active asthma through adolescence and adulthood, independent of body mass index. High insulin indicates a novel mechanism for asthma development, which may be a target for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-792.e5
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Asthma
  • Insulin
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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