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Heavy birthweight increases risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis
Date:6/30/2008

New York, June 30, 2008 People who have a birthweight over 10 pounds are twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis when they are adults compared to individuals born with an average birthweight, according to a study published by researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery online in advance of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. While the mechanism for this association is unclear, the study identifies a potentially modifiable risk factor and highlights a potential way to decrease the incidence of the disease.

"There may be a relationship between being born over 10 pounds and getting rheumatoid arthritis later in life," said Lisa Mandl, M.D., MPH, who led the study and is an attending rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. "If there was some way that you could prevent someone from getting rheumatoid arthritis by making sure their birth weight wasn't over 10 pounds, this is a risk factor that could be modifiable. You can't change someone's age. You can't change someone's gender, but potentially you could change someone's birth weight. This is however only speculative at this point."

Previously, investigators have demonstrated that an increased risk of adult onset chronic disease can be a function of the fetal environment. Strong associations between low birth weight and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease and hypertension have been documented in a number of different populations. Published in 2003, a case-control study of roughly 400 individuals in Sweden identified an association between high birthweight and rheumatoid arthritis.

To see if this association played out in a larger population, Dr. Mandl and colleagues turned to a study of 87,077 women in the Nurses' Health Study. In 1976, nurses were invited to participate in this study that involved a baseline survey and then a biennial questionnaire regarding health status, lifestyle, family medi
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Contact: Phyllis Fisher
fisherp@hss.edu
212-606-1197
Hospital for Special Surgery
Source:Eurekalert

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