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Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Nov 1;158(9):861-70.

Association of a woman's own birth weight with her subsequent risk for pregnancy-induced hypertension.

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Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO, USA.


Studies have linked low birth weight to elevated risk for adult hypertension and insulin resistance. However, the relation between birth weight and later risk for pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), a disorder associated with insulin resistance and predictive of chronic hypertension, has not been well studied. This case-control study used linked hospital discharge and vital record data from New York State. Subjects were healthy women born in New York State who completed a first pregnancy there between 1994 and 1998. Records from each woman's own birth (1970-1985) were linked to those from her first pregnancy. Cases were 2,180 women diagnosed with PIH. Controls were the 22,955 remaining women with no record of PIH. Birth weight showed a U-shaped relation to risk for PIH, with the highest risks associated with very low and very high birth weights. Relative to women born at 3.5-4.0 kg, odds ratios adjusted for gestational age were 2.1 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 3.9) and 1.6 (95% CI: 1.1, 2.4), respectively, for women with birth weights less than 1.5 kg and greater than 4.5 kg. Adjustment for other perinatal factors reduced the association with high birth weight to 1.1 (95% CI: 0.7, 1.7) but strengthened that with lower birth weights, leaving a strong, inverse relation between birth weight and PIH risk (p for trend < 0.0001). These findings support a possible role for early life factors, particularly fetal growth, in the etiology of PIH.

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