Women who give birth to unusually small infants also have a higher risk of ischemic heart disease, which is independent of other factors like general poor health or genetic or environmental causes, according to a study published Mar. 14 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
The study, led by Radek Bukowski of University of Texas Medical Branch, looked at records for 6,608 mothers in the US, 399 of which had delivered a small for gestational age (SGA) infant and 453 of which had ischemic heart disease (IHD). The researchers found that the odds of heart disease were almost twice as high for women who had the smaller babies. They also took other factors into account, including family medical history, and found that the correlation between delivery of an SGA infant and IHD was not affected.
These results suggest that such a pregnancy may induce cardiovascular changes and could be an important early risk factor for heart disease.
"If further studies validate our findings, doctors will have a new low-cost, effective way of identifying women at risk for heart disease and they can intervene decades before disease onset," says Dr. Bukowski.
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