The Effect of Diabetes and Birth Weight on the Development of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) in Adulthood

Journal: International Journal of Biological Sciences
Authors: Maria Banci, Patrizia Saccucci, Alessandro Dofcaci, Ilaria Sansoni, Andrea Magrini, Egidio Bottini, and Fulvia Gloria-Bottini
Date of Publication: March 3, 2009
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Scientists have long been debating the link between birth weight and coronary artery disease. Some studies have linked the two events clearly while others negate the original link altogether. This study aims to support determine if there is a link between the birth weight of adults who later develop CAD and the association of diabetes with the development of CAD.

Doctors used information collected from 226 non-ethnic patients admitted to an Italian hospital with CAD (not fatal) as the source of study. The baseline group consisted of nearly 400 infants born between the years of 1968 and 1972. The patients presenting with CAD verified birth weight in about ½ of the cases. This left the researchers utilizing only 127 case studies during their research.

Of the verified birth weights, the connection between CAD and birth weight was evident but with mirrored effects in the male and female population. Males tended to have a higher risk of CAD with verified higher than average birth weights. On the other hand, females tended to have a higher risk of CAD with verified lower than average birth weights. The relationship between higher and lower birth weights is more evident in the participants without diabetes. The diabetic participants showed less evidence of a correlation between birth weight and adult-onset CAD.

Past studies have tried to link a female gene affecting insulin sensitivity to lower than average birth weight and future onset of CAD. This study negates those results as the patients presenting with diabetes had shown less correlation between future CAD and birth weight despite the sex of the patient. The higher correlation between CAD and birth weight was present in the population without diabetes.

Studies of this caliber are small, yet far-reaching. If a connection was made between the birth weight and future onset of CAD (which can be life-threatening and life-ending) the birth weight of a baby in utero could be closely measured more accurately and the eating habits of the mother adjusted to adjust the weight of the baby. A direct link between CAD and the birth weight of a newborn could also help to promote better prenatal care in populations that are less likely to seek out care before the birth of their children.

It is also important to note that smaller studies of this caliber often lead to future studies on a broader scale. A link between birth weight and CAD could help save the nearly 500,000 lives a year claimed by coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is also referred to as coronary heart disease. More than 15,000,000 people live with CAD every year with approximately 1.25 million additional cases of CAD being diagnosed yearly.