Maternal and Placental Size Linked to Men's Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease predicted by three combinations of maternal and placental size

THURSDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Three combinations of maternal body size and placental size can predict coronary heart disease in men, according to a study published online June 1 in the European Heart Journal.

Johan G. Eriksson, M.D., Ph.D., from the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues examined whether the association between low birth weight and increased risk of coronary heart disease can be attributed to fetal programming through malnutrition, and whether this could be predicted by maternal and/or placental size. The size at birth of 6,975 men born in Helsinki between 1934 and 1944 was recorded.

The investigators found that individuals who developed coronary heart disease later in life were likely to have a low ponderal index (birthweight/length³). Coronary heart disease was significantly predicted by three placental phenotypes. Primiparous mothers, who were below median height, had a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.14 for every centimeter increase in the difference between the length and width of the placental surface. The HR for tall mothers, with a body mass index above the median, was 1.25 per 40 cm² decrease in the placental surface area. The HR for coronary heart disease was 1.07 for each 1 percent increase in the placental weight/birthweight ratio in tall mothers, who had a body mass index below the median.

"Three different combinations of maternal and placental size predicted coronary heart disease. The mother's body size determines the availability of nutrients and is linked to the development and function of the placenta, reflected in its shape and size," the authors write.

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Physician’s Briefing Staff

Physician’s Briefing Staff

Published on June 02, 2011

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