Submitted to: Lancet
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Previous studies have shown that low birth weight is an important risk factor for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease in later life. We wanted to determine whether birth weight was related to the blood level of apolipoprotein A1 (apo A1), since low apolipoprotein A1 is a risk factor for heart disease. The lower the level of apo A1, the lower the high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) - the "good" type of cholesterol - thus, the higher the risk of heart disease. Our theory was that the lower the birth weight of a child, the lower the apo A1. We developed a model that showed this to be true, after studying Jamaican children who had recovered from malnutrition. We showed for the first time, that the blood level of apo A1 is positively related to birth weight. These findings may provide a screening tool to identify children at greatest risk of coronary heart disease in adult life, which would be helpful because preventative measures could be started at an earlier time.
Technical Abstract: A growing body of evidence suggests that indices of fetal development such as birth weight are predictors of hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD) in adult life. Specifically, the risk of developing these cardiovascular diseases is inversely related to weight and length at birth. Recent studies have attempted to delineate the metabolic processes underlying the relationship between fetal development and CHD risk, including abnormalities in the metabolism of fibrinogen and cholesterol. Plasma fibrinogen, total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, known risk factors for CHD, are inversely related to fetal growth in utero.