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Low birth weight associated with cardiovascular risk in kids

ANI | Updated: Oct 04, 2019 19:03 IST

Washington DC [USA], Oct 4 (ANI): We all know that low birth weight leads to various health issues at birth; however, a recent study has revealed that it is associated with cardiovascular risk as well in children.
In the study published in the 'Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease', researcher Amna Umer explored how low birth weight correlates to cardiovascular risk factors in childhood.
She and her colleagues assessed data of 20,000 fifth-graders born in West Virginia. They discovered that if children had a low birth weight, they were more likely to exhibit cardiovascular risk factors in fifth grade.
"Previously it was thought that risk factors for cardiovascular diseases were only observed in adults because cardiovascular disease is mostly seen in adults," said Umer, a research assistant professor in the School of Medicine's Department of Paediatrics. "But in the past few years, we've seen that these risk factors are observed in children as well."
The team analyzed data from three sources: West Virginia birth certificates, the West Virginia WATCH/Birth Score program and the CARDIAC project. The children in the study comprised were all born full term--between 1994 and 2010--across West Virginia's 55 counties.
The researchers considered each child's birth weight and his or her body mass index in fifth grade, among other variables. They also evaluated each fifth-grader's level of triglycerides--fat that circulates in the blood--and various cholesterol types.
"Low birth weight was associated with higher levels of 'bad' cholesterol and lower levels of 'good' cholesterol," Umer said.
In addition, children with a low birth weight tended to have higher triglyceride level. These traits are risk factors for heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, atherosclerosis and other disorders.
Even after the researchers took into account the children's BMIs, socio-demographics, family medical histories and other factors, the relationship between these risk factors and low birth weight remained significant.
"Low birth weight doesn't just happen at birth spontaneously," said Christa Lilly, a member of the research team and an associate professor of biostatistics in the School of Public Health. "It's a sign of slow growth in the womb. So, I think there's an opportunity for intervening during pregnancy to reduce factors that can influence suboptimal foetal growth." (ANI)