THURSDAY, Sept. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Being born to a mother with a thin placenta -- the organ that nourishes the fetus -- may increase the chances of developing sudden cardiac death as an adult, new research suggests.
"People [born to mothers] with the thinnest placentas were twice as likely to have sudden cardiac death," said study author Dr. David Barker, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.
The report is published online Sept. 19 in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Up to 5 million people a year worldwide die of sudden cardiac death, according to study background information.
Barker and his colleagues looked at the records of more than 13,000 men and women born in Helsinki, Finland during the years 1934 to 1944.
The researchers looked at cases of sudden cardiac death that occurred outside hospitals. They found that 187 men and 47 women had died of sudden, unexplained cardiac death.
Then they looked back at birth records and found the link between thin placentas and sudden cardiac death. They only found an association, however, not a cause-and-effect relationship.
Why the apparent link? The thin placenta may lead to malnutrition of the unborn baby, the researchers said. Sudden cardiac death in this group of men and women was also associated with low socioeconomic status and low educational level. The low educational level, the researchers said, may spring from the malnutrition, which in turn may hamper prenatal development.
The researchers did not find a link with birth weight, birth length or how long pregnancies lasted and sudden cardiac death.
The researchers noted limitations to the study, including that the measurements were made 70 years ago and that their quality was not checked routinely.
"This is a novel finding that adds to the literature suggesting that
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