No Connection Between Birth Weight and Hypertension

Published Online: Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Low birth weight has long been associated with an increased likelihood of adult hypertension.

Now a ?study of the studies? has concluded that, ?despite previous claims of a strong association, birth weight is of little relevance to blood pressure levels in later life.?
 Published in the August 31, 2002, issue of The Lancet, the study analyzed 103 previous studies that focused on the low-birth-weight connection. The current investigation concluded that many of the studies were small and may thus have produced skewed results.

The largest, best-designed studies, for example, showed the lowest correlation between birth weight and adult hypertension. In these studies, a 2.2-lb increase in birth weight was associated with just a half-point reduction in adult systolic blood pressure, not the 2- to 4-point reduction found in the smaller, less well-designed studies.

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