Heavy Birthweight Linked to Development of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Posted Mar 22 2010 7:01am
According to a recent published study, people who had a birth weight of over 10 pounds are twice as likely to develop Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) as adults compared to people that had an average birth weight. A previous, case-control study conducted in Sweden of 400 people also determined that there was an association between RA and high birthweight.
Previous studies have identified an increased risk of adult onset diabetes, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure as a result of low birthweight.
For the current study, Dr. Lisa Mandl and a team from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York used data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which includes 87, 077 women. The Nurses’ Health Study was initiated in 1976 by inviting nurses to participate in a baseline survey, and then follow up surveys every 2 years.
The survey included questions related to lifestyle, health status, health practices and family medical history. The results excluded responses from women who had cancer or connective tissue disease at baseline, and any whose follow up survey indicated RA which could not be confirmed from their medical record. After these exclusions, 87,077 women were included in the study, of which 619 had developed rheumatoid arthritis.
Statistical analysis of the resultant data showed that a birth weight of greater than 10 pounds doubled the risk of developing RA as an adult.
The researchers have theorized that the fetal environment may be preprogramming the fetus’ brains or endocrine systems to adapt to in utero stressors that result in those systems being maladapted in adulthood.
The current research was published online in advance of the printed issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases and was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.