According to a new study, women who give birth to small, full-term babies have increased chances of developing heart diseases later in their life. The new study, conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galvesto, shows delivery of small babies as an independent predictor of heart disease in the later stages. Women who have a small baby are twice more likely to develop heart disease. The researchers found this association after accounting for all other factors that influence the risk of heart disease.
Generally, out of ten full-term babies one may be small-for-their-gestational-age (SGA) baby. According to researchers, if the findings of the study are confirmed, asking women about the weight of their babies might be a very simple way to identify the risk of heart disease that may appear a decade later in their life.
The study, published in the journal PLoS One, included the analysis of data from 6,600 women who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. During the survey, data regarding the history of heart disease and risk factors of heart problems and stroke were collected along with the their childbirth histories. SGA baby is defined as a baby weighing less than 5lbs and 8oz at a gestational age of 37-weeks-old or more.
Results show that the risk of heart disease was two times more in women who gave birth to SGA babies when compared to women who delivered a normal, full-term baby. This risk of heart disease was comparable to any other risk factors like the high blood pressure and diabetes. This predicts the risk of heart disease an average of three decades earlier than its diagnosis.
The study does not say how delivery of a small baby may result in increased risk of heart diseases later in life. According to Dr. Bukowski, one of the reasons might be that low concentrations of factors that stimulate placental growth could also inhibit the growth of blood vessels that repair the heart. But if that is true, it might permanently affect circulation. Tara Narula, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, finds the results of the study quite intriguing and feels that it is premature to consider that giving birth to SGA baby may influence the risk of heart disease. Moreover, as per the present guidelines, doctors do ask their patients regarding the childbirth histories before assessing the risk of heart diseases and stroke.