Restricted Fetal Growth Raises Later Risk of Irritable Bowel

Birth weight below 1500 grams associated with earlier age of onset

FRIDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome is greater among people who weighed less than 1,500 g at birth compared to those who weighed more than 1,500 g, and patients with a lower birth weight tend to develop the condition earlier than their heavier counterparts, according to study findings published online Sept. 28 in Gut.

Jennifer R. Harris, Ph.D., of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway, and colleagues conducted a postal questionnaire of 12,700 Norwegian twins born in the 1960s and 1970s, with a 31-item checklist of illnesses and symptoms including irritable bowel syndrome. In order to test the association between intrauterine growth and irritable bowel syndrome, the investigators analyzed data from discordant monozygotic pairs.

Among the monozygotic pairs, there was 22.4 percent concordance with irritable bowel syndrome, versus only 9.1 percent among dizygotic twins. After adjustment, subjects with low birth weight (below 1,500 g) were 2.4 times more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome than those with a heavier birth weight. The symptoms developed 7.7 years earlier in subjects with low birth weight compared to those patients with higher birth weight.

"We found that a genetic contribution appeared to be important for irritable bowel syndrome among females. Moreover, the present study demonstrated for the first time that restricted fetal growth significantly affected susceptibility to irritable bowel syndrome later in life," the authors conclude.

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