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Fetal Growth Rate Affects Risk Of Heart Disease

(Reduced fetal growth rate and increased risk of death from ischaemic heart disease: cohort study of 15,000 Swedish men and women born 1915-1929)

There has been much research into whether circumstances affecting a fetus during pregnancy can affect the risk of cardiovascular disease in adult life. To date much of the research into this area has not been conclusive. In this week's BMJ, Dr David Leon from the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and colleagues from the Universities of Uppsala and Stockholm in Sweden provide by far the most persuasive evidence yet of an association between size at birth and eventual death from heart disease.

In their study of 14,611 babies delivered at the Uppsala Hospital, Sweden during 1915-1919, the authors show that among men, the risk of death from ischaemic heart disease declines as birth weight increases (the heavier the baby the less likely he is to die from heart disease in later life). They suggest that it is in fact the rate at which the fetus grows rather than the ultimate size of the baby at birth that is the important determinant of the risk. However, Leon et al are not certain what factors determine the rate of growth of the baby in the womb.

Contact:

Dr David Leon, Reader, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London


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Contact: Jill Shepherd
jshepherd@bma.org.uk
+44 171 383 6529
BMJ-British Medical Journal
24-Jul-1998


Page: 1

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