Small, Full-Term Baby Equals Greater Heart Risks for Mom
New mothers who give birth to babies who are full-term but small are twice as likely as other women to develop ischemic heart disease, report researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
Researchers have suspected for awhile that delivering a full-term, small-birth-weight baby is a predictor of later heart disease for the mother. But they believed this link was due to common genetic or environmental factors, or to overall poor health.
“What we found instead is that pregnancies that produce small-birth-weight infants who weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces may trigger long-term cardiovascular changes that increase the mothers’ risks for heart disease,” said Radek Bukowski, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UTMB.
Bukowski said he and fellow researchers were especially surprised when they adjusted for family medical history and known risk factors such as smoking in the sample group of women studied, yet small-birth-weight still remained a powerful, independent risk factor for heart disease in mothers.
This knowledge, when verified with future studies, will help physicians identify at-risk women who can be followed for possible signs of ensuing heart disease decades after giving birth, Bukowski said.
This discovery was published recently in the journal PLoS One.