Big Babies At Higher Risk Of Growing Up With Heart Rhythm Disorder: Study

Big Babies At Higher Risk Of Growing Up With Heart Rhythm Disorder: Study

“People born with a high weight should adopt a healthy lifestyle to lower their likelihood of developing the heart rhythm disorder," said Dr Songzan Chen.

Elevated birth weight among babies may put them at more health risks. A recent study presented at 31st Great Wall International Congress of Cardiology (GW-ICC) on 19 October 2020 found that big babies might are more likely to have a heart rhythm disorder once they enter adulthood. 

“Our results suggest that the risk of atrial fibrillation in adulthood may be higher for large newborns (over 4,000 grams or 8 pounds 13 ounces) than those with normal birth weight,” said Dr Songzan Chen of Zhejiang University, the author of the study. 

heart rhythm disorder

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Atrial Fibrillation In Big Babies

Over 40 million people in the world experience atrial fibrillation which is the most common heart rhythm disorder. In order to further understand its causes and find possible prevention, researchers looked into the link between birth weight and atrial fibrillation which has been a controversial topic so far. 

For the study, researchers used Mendelian randomisation or a randomised controlled trial which included 321,223 individuals in order to analyse 132 genetic variants linked to birth weight. Afterwards, they examined data from 537,409 participants of the Atrial Fibrillation Consortium which included 55,114 who had atrial fibrillation and 482,295 who did not. With this data, they got to identify which of the first group of variants “play a role in atrial fibrillation.” 

Their findings showed that participants who had a birth weight of 482 grams (about 1 standard deviation) above the average, which is 3,397 grams, were found to be 30% at higher risk of developing heart rhythm disorder. 

Dr Chen said, “A major strength of our study is the methodology, which allows us to conclude that there may be a causal relationship between high birth weight and atrial fibrillation. However, we cannot discount the possibility that adult height and weight may be the reasons for the connection. Birth weight is a robust predictor for adult height, and taller people are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. Previous research has shown that the link between birth weight and atrial fibrillation was weaker when adult weight was taken into account.”

heart rhythm disorder

Image Source: iStock

How To Prevent This From Happening 

After finding genetic evidence for the connection between a child’s birth weight and their future risk of atrial fibrillation, researchers have suggested that preventing the likelihood of elevated birth weight among babies must start as soon as possible. 

Professor Guosheng Fu of Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital (SRRSH) advised that pregnant women should “pay more attention to the diet control and regular check-ups, especially for those with obesity or diabetes.” He also advised those born with a high birth weight should also check their lifestyles and be educated on the risks of heart rhythm disorder. 

Professor Michel Komajda, a Past President of the ESC and Global Affairs regional Ambassador for Asia, stated that people can also prevent having atrial fibrillation through “physical activity and keeping body weight under control.”

“Preventing elevated birth weight could be a novel way to avoid atrial fibrillation in offspring – for example with a balanced diet and regular check-ups during pregnancy, particularly for women who are overweight, obese or have diabetes,” added Dr Chen. 


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Written by

Ally Villar

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