Low birth weight (LBW), an index of poor intrauterine nutrition, may play a role in the development of health risks later in life such as obesity and certain chronic diseases, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Diabetes.
Wang‐Hong Xu, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, and colleagues conducted the study to determine the association between LBW and subsequent risks of obesity and certain chronic diseases in the Chinese population.
For the study, the research team analyzed data from two population‐based prospective cohort studies, the Shanghai Women’s Health Study and the Shanghai Men’s Health Study consisting of 11 515 men and 13 569 women. Birth weight was self‐reported at baseline; anthropometric measurements were made at study enrollment. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) diagnoses were self‐reported, whereas hypertension diagnoses were based on self‐report and blood pressure measurements at baseline and follow‐up surveys.
- Non‐linear associations were observed for birth weight with baseline body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist: hip ratio (WHR), and waist: height ratio (WHtR; P < 0.05 for non‐linearity), and LBW was linked with lower BMI, smaller WC, and larger WHR and WHtR.
- An excess risk of T2DM was observed for LBW (<2500 g) versus birth weight 2500–3499 g since baseline (hazard ratio [HR] 1.17; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.92–1.49) and since birth (HR 1.29; 95% CI 1.07–1.54), whereas the HRs for hypertension since baseline and birth were 1.13 (95% CI 1.01–1.27) and 1.20 (95% CI 1.11–1.30), respectively.
- The risk of the diseases decreased as birth weight increased up to ~4000 g; further increases in birth weight did not convey additional benefits.
“The associations were observed even after adjusting for most socioeconomic and lifestyle factors in adulthood, such as educational level, per capita income, smoking, alcohol consumption and regular exercise,” said Dr. Wang‐Hong “These results suggest an important role of maternal and child health in the prevention of non-communicable diseases in China and other low- and middle-income countries.”
“Our results suggest that LBW, an index of poor intrauterine nutrition, may affect health risks later in life in the Chinese population,” conclude the authors.