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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33047. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033047. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Delivery of a small for gestational age infant and greater maternal risk of ischemic heart disease.

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  • 1Medical Branch, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas, Galveston, Texas, United States of America.



Delivery of a small for gestational age (SGA) infant has been associated with increased maternal risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD). It is uncertain whether giving birth to SGA infant is a specific determinant of later IHD, independent of other risk factors, or a marker of general poor health. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between delivery of a SGA infant and maternal risk for IHD in relation to traditional IHD risk factors.


Risk of maternal IHD was evaluated in a population based cross-sectional study of 6,608 women with a prior live term birth who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2006), a probability sample of the U.S. population. Sequence of events was determined from age at last live birth and at diagnosis of IHD. Delivery of a SGA infant is strongly associated with greater maternal risk for IHD (age adjusted OR; 95% CI: 1.8; 1.2, 2.9; p = 0.012). The association was independent of the family history of IHD, stroke, hypertension and diabetes (family history-adjusted OR; 95% CI: 1.9; 1.2, 3.0; p = 0.011) as well as other risk factors for IHD (risk factor-adjusted OR; 95% CI: 1.7; 1.1, 2.7; p = 0.025). Delivery of a SGA infant was associated with earlier onset of IHD and preceded it by a median of 30 (interquartile range: 20, 36) years.


Giving birth to a SGA infant is strongly and independently associated with IHD and a potential risk factor that precedes IHD by decades. A pregnancy that produces a SGA infant may induce long-term cardiovascular changes that increase risk for IHD.

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