A group of researchers from Oregon State University have linked lower than average birth weight to an infant’s ability to process medications, for life. According to the report, poor nutrition can lead to poor fetal weight gain. After birth and well into adulthood, the ability of the child to process medications may be affected.

Researchers looked at the ability of kidneys to process medications in offspring born to animals fed insufficient diets during pregnancy. The specific diet described in the research was a low-protein diet. The specific problem seems to be with what researchers are calling the “drug transporter”. This element virtually sits on the cell and pulls medications out of blood. If the transporter is not there or only produced in limited amounts, less of the medication will be pulled from the blood and therefore the medication will not work as effectively as it is supposed to work.

Researchers found some irony in the results. Typically, lower than average birth weight infants have an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among other illnesses. These require medication, but that medication may not work the way it should to treat the medical problem. Low birth weight has also been linked to adult obesity, which carries an entirely different set of problems in terms of medication dosage.

This study and future studies along the same lines hope to bring light to the problems with current medication dosing. If dosing is adjusted on a more personal basis, treatments may be more effective.

Source: Oregon State University Research Team. 9 November 2010.

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