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Child Care Health Dev. 1996 Jan;22(1):37-53.

Modulation of birthweight through gestational age and fetal growth.

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Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Athens University Medical School, Greece.


Several factors are known to affect birthweight and their effects are variously mediated through gestational duration or through fetal growth conditional on this gestation. In order to quantify independent associations of birthweight conditional and unconditional on gestational age, all 2538 mothers of singleton babies delivered during 1993 in two Maternity Hospitals in Athens were interviewed and their obstetric records abstracted. Birthweight was modelled as outcome variable through multiple regression including 32 potentially predictive factors. The regression model was fitted with and without gestational age as an additional independent variable in order to apportion birthweight associations into those independent of, or mediated through, gestational length. The factors studied were found to be classifiable into the following categories: factors associated with birthweight mostly through increases in gestational duration, either positively (age at menarche, long menstrual cycles, parity 4 or higher), or negatively (single motherhood, maternal age, tobacco smoking); those associated with birthweight mostly through increase of birthweight conditional on gestational duration, either positively (male gender, short menstrual cycles, maternal pre-pregnancy weight, anaemia, oedema) or inversely (employment during pregnancy, stillbirth, primiparity, pregnancy induced hypertension, coffee drinking); and those associated with birthweight through apparently dual effects, either positively (maternal education) or inversely (perceived stress, bleeding during pregnancy). The other studied factors were not demonstrably related to birthweight in this data set. Identification and quantification of these relations is useful for understanding underlying physiological and pathophysiological processes and for increasing specificity in exploring the association of birthweight with adult onset diseases, like coronary heart disease or cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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