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Birth Weight, Height Can Predict the Future Health of an Infant: Study

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A person’s health can be predicted as early as he /she is born. A new study in the journal ‘Early Human Development’ reveals that an infant’s birth weight and height together can help to predict the picture of a person’s future life. 

Birth weight and height can help in telling doctors if the baby is born with a heightened risk of heart issues which can affect in later of his/her life. 

Birth weight can tell about the fetal growth; while height gives a more complete picture of both fetal growth and growth trajectory, said Dr. Brian Stansfield, a neonatologist at the Medical College of Georgia. 

Measures called ponderal index, or PI, as well as the more widely used body mass index, or BMI, which both account for height and weight, are known to provide a more accurate indication of fetal growth and what’s ahead for the child. 

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The study found that a low PI or low BMI at birth should be considered as a risk that needs more attention and intervention. 

Stansfield said, “When you look at birth weight alone, you are looking at a measure at a single point in time, which is a big problem when it comes to projecting out,”  

It’s found in the report that perinatal growth is affected by various factors from genetics to environmental ones like the mother’s health and habits like smoking, nutrition, and gestational diabetes has important implications for heart development, and animal and human studies have associated low birth weight with heart problems and death. 

For this study, they looked at 379 healthy black and white adolescents aged between14-18. Parents provided their children’s birth weight and length, which were used by investigators to calculate a BMI and PI. 

 

The sample group showed that a low PI, where increases in height and weight are out of sync during development, was most associated with an increase in the size of the major pumping chamber of the heart, the left ventricle, which is considered a risk for future cardiovascular disease. 

Two-dimensional echocardiography was used to noninvasively look at the children’s left ventricle for telltale indicators of hypertrophy like thickening of the walls and less blood being pumped out. 

Then they studied the relationships between birth weight and birth BMI and PI and the structure and function of the left ventricle in the children. 

This study found that a low PI had the highest association with risk factors for heart problems, but the more widely used BMI is also a good tool, researchers noted. “We believe our findings are a call to pediatricians to be even more diligent in measuring and noting the birth weight and length parameters,” Stansfield pointed. 

This very early measure of height and weight can provide lifelong insight into an individual’s risk of heart and other diseases, he added. 



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