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Womb may have impact upon Blood Pressure

New research totals to a growing body of evidence that adult health is set to a considerable degree by conditions in the womb and proposes that programming may start earlier in pregnancy than previously believed. According to the study it was found that fetuses with shorter thigh bones// at 24weeks had higher blood pressure at the age of 5 than those with longer thigh bones.

Understanding how life in the womb influences later health has become a hot area of medical research. It has focused mostly on the effect of birth weight on health and the subsequent development of illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. But the latest study is among the first to find evidence earlier in human life.

Scientists believe that when a fetus is undernourished, it diverts resources to areas it really needs at the time, such as the brain, at the expense of organs it will need later in life. That may permanently change the baby's structure, functioning and metabolism, experts believe.

According to Dr. David Barker, an epidemiologist, who pioneered fetal programming research, felt that there's a lot of work about the size at birth. Birth weight is a crude measurement. It tells you very little because babies can reach the same birth weight by many different paths of growth.

Barker at the University in England said that because of technology advances, people are able to study children who have had serial measurements of size in (the uterus) that follow their growth, and these observations take us back into early pregnancy.

The study, led by Dr. Kevin Blake at the University of Western Australia, involved ultrasounds done at 18, 24, 28, 34 and 38 weeks of pregnancy on 650 women with normal pregnancies. During each scan, doctors measured the circumference of the head and abdomen and the length of the babies' thigh bones.

Blood pressure was measured in about 250 of the resulting children
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