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Is birthweight a good marker for gestational exposures that increase the risk of adult disease?


Morley, R and Owens, J and Blair, E and Dwyer, T, Is birthweight a good marker for gestational exposures that increase the risk of adult disease?, Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 16, (3) pp. 194-199. ISSN 0269-5022 (2002) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1046/j.1365-3016.2002.00428.x


There is much evidence of a link between low birthweight and elevated risk of adult cardiovascular disease, from humans and experimental animals. However, if one relies on data linking birthweight to coronary heart disease to estimate the public health implications of this association, the effects are likely to be modest. The focus on birth-weight may be misplaced, because reduced size at birth may not be in the causal pathway linking gestational factors to disease in adult offspring. We need to know more about this before we can estimate the public health implications of gestational factors and assess the potential for intervention. The most studied gestational factor is maternal nutrition. We review here evidence for and against birthweight being in the causal pathways between suboptimal maternal nutrition and increased risk of adult disease in the offspring and provide evidence suggesting that birthweight is not in all of them. From a public health point of view, we suggest that future research in this field should focus on modifiable gestational exposures that may be linked to adult disease, whether or not they influence size at birth.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Cardiovascular medicine and haematology
Research Field:Cardiology (incl. cardiovascular diseases)
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Morley, R (Dr Ruth Morley)
UTAS Author:Dwyer, T (Professor Terry Dwyer)
ID Code:24634
Year Published:2002
Web of Science® Times Cited:24
Deposited By:Menzies Centre
Deposited On:2002-08-01
Last Modified:2003-04-04

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