Rheumatoid arthritis may be a bigger risk for big babies

Los Angeles Times—July 7, 2008

Bigger babies might appear robust and jolly, but their heavy birth weight could be a sign of health woes to come. In a study of 84,077 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study from 1976 to 1992, Dr. Lisa Mandl at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and colleagues found that people who weighed more than 10 pounds at birth were twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as those who were of normal weight ó 7.1 to 8.5 pounds ó at birth.

However, it's possible that the two are not linked as cause and reaction. "The same stressors that are preprogramming the fetus to be heavier when born may also be programming the fetus to develop rheumatoid arthritis later in life," Mandl said. Both heavy birth weight and rheumatoid arthritis may be symptoms of an underlying condition, according to Mandl.

The results of the study were published in the July issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

To learn more about the relationship between a child's birth weight and health later in life, read Heavy Birth Weight Increases Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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