New Research Suggests Women Whose Babies Have A Low Birth Weight May Have A Higher Likelihood Of Developing Dementia Later In Life

Valerii Apetroaiei - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person or baby

A new study conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that women whose babies weigh less than 5.5 pounds at birth may have a higher likelihood of developing dementia later in life.

It is crucial to note the study does not claim that giving birth to a low birth weight child directly causes cognitive decline later in life. Rather, the research indicates there is an association between the two.

“Previous research has shown that people who have had a low birth weight delivery have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Our study found that a history of having a child with a low birth weight may also be a marker of poorer cognition later in life,” said Diana C. Soria-Contreras, one of the study’s authors.

A total of 15,323 women – who had an average age of 62 and had given birth at least once –participated in the study. They completed a series of cognitive and memory tests. Additionally, the women completed a survey detailing their pregnancies, including information about birth outcomes, any complications, and other relevant information.

Among the participants, 1,224 women had delivered a baby with a low birth weight. This parameter was defined as less than 5.5 pounds for pregnancies that lasted over 20 weeks.

After the participants underwent cognitive and memory tests, the team analyzed the test scores and assessed the participants’ ability to respond accurately and quickly to various situations. Higher scores in these scenarios indicated better memory and cognitive abilities.

For the working memory tests, there was a score difference of -0.05 between women who had delivered a low birth weight baby and women who had not. Then, for the speed and attention tests, the difference was found to be -0.06.

So, the study revealed that giving birth to a low birth weight infant had an impact on memory and cognitive ability equivalent to one to two years of aging. The study further showed that multiple low birth weight deliveries further decreased participants’ scores.

The research team did account for factors that could influence cognitive function and birth weight. For instance, the age of each participant, if they smoked, and the presence of high blood pressure.

Valerii Apetroaiei – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person or baby

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