Endothelial function is impaired in fit young adults of low birth weight

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Objective: Non-insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension and ischaemic heart disease, with insulin resistance, are associated with low birth weight (the 'Small Baby Syndrome'). Common to these adult clinical conditions is endothelial dysfunction. We tested the hypothesis that endothelial dysfunction could precede their development in those of low birth weight. Methods: Endothelial function was measured by ultrasonic 'wall-tracking' of flow-related brachial artery dilatation in fit 19-20 year old subjects randomly selected (blind to the investigators throughout the study) from low (<2.5 kg) and normal (3.0-3.8 kg) birth weight subjects in the 1975-7 cohort of the Cardiff Births Survey and with no known cause for endothelial dysfunction. Results: Flow-related dilatation was impaired in low birth weight relative to normal birth weight subjects (median 0.04 mm [1.5%] [n=22] cf. 0.11 mm [4.1%] [n=17], p<0.05; 0.04 mm [1.5%] [n=15] cf. 0.12 mm [4.4%] [n=[2], p<0.05 after exclusion of inadvertently included ever-smokers). Conclusion: The findings suggest that endothelial dysfunction is a consequence of foetal malnutrition, consistent with contributing to the clinical features of the 'Small Baby Syndrome' in later adult life.




Goodfellow, J., Bellamy, M. F., Gorman, S. T., Brownlee, M., Ramsey, M. W., Lewis, M. J., … Henderson, A. H. (1998). Endothelial function is impaired in fit young adults of low birth weight. Cardiovascular Research, 40(3), 600–606. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0008-6363(98)00197-7

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