Birth Weight Tied to Parent Deaths

Parents of low birth weight babies may be more likely to die from cardiovascular disease and other causes than those of heavier babies. The greater risk of death in this 15-year study in the west of Scotland "could not be explained by a range of social, environmental, behavioral, and physiological factors". The researchers suggest that there is a factor related to birth that influences mortality and is transmitted across generations.

For overall mortality, the risk of death among mothers increased 1.82 times for every 2.2 pound decrease in infant birth weight. For fathers, the mortality risk was 1.35 times greater for every kilogram decrease in their newborn's birthweight. In terms of cardiovascular disease, the risk was two-fold for mothers for each 2.2 pounds lower newborn weight, and 1.52 times greater for fathers. When the researchers took into account socioeconomic factors, such as income and housing location, the findings were affected only slightly.

British Medical Journal (1997;315:1189-1193)

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