Heavy birth weight may increase risk of heart problems

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  • There is a risk of atrial fibrillation in adulthood for babies who were born with a higher body weight 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle early on can, however, prevent the onset of AF later in life
  • Pregnant mothers should also pay more attention to diet control and have regular check-ups

Research presented at the 31st Great Wall International Congress of Cardiology (GW-ICC) indicates that elevated birth weight can be associated with atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate) in adulthood. 

Previous studies have indicated that a high BMI during pregnancy is linked to atrial fibrillation in offspring, and advised that preventing maternal obesity can lessen the likelihood of the condition.

Now a study authored by Dr Songzan Chen of Zhejiang University suggests  that there is a risk of atrial fibrillation in adulthood for babies who were born with a higher body weight (over 4 000 grams). Researchers conducted a trial using data from 321 223 individuals “to identify 132 genetic variants associated with birth weight”.

The relationship between birth weight and atrial fibrillation

Dr Chen found that there is a causal relationship between birth weight and atrial fibrillation. Also, birth weight presents an indication of adult height, and the risk of atrial fibrillation is higher in tall people.

However, maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle early on can prevent the onset of AF later in life.

Elevated birth weight preventable

According to Professor Guosheng Fu of Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, ”reducing the number of newborns with elevated birth weight is probably considered as a feasible prevention to ease the burden of atrial fibrillation. Therefore, pregnant women should pay more attention to diet control and regular check-ups, especially for those with obesity or diabetes.”

People who were born with higher weight should also try to avoid other triggers of AF, such as drinking alcohol, obesity, smoking and drinking caffeinated drinks, as these increase the risk. Dr Chen emphasised that these individuals should adopt a healthy lifestyle to lower their chances of developing AF.

Image credit: Unsplash

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