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Why 14% of babies face poor health future, by studies

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PHOTO: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

One in seven children born with low weight will develop chronic diseases in adulthood
More babies are likely to be born with low birth weight and face a future of poor health by developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, hypertension and psychiatric disorders, among others if nothing is done urgently.

A new study undertaken by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), showed that over 20 million babies were born with less than 2500 gramme; 5.5 pounds in 2015 translating to about one in seven of all global births.

The study, which involved 148 countries and 281 million births and published in The Lancet Global Health journal, noted that almost three-quarter of the babies were born in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where data are limited.

The researchers said the problem also remains substantial in high-income countries of Europe, North America, and Australia and New Zealand, where there has been virtually no progress in reducing low birth-weight rates since year 2000.

The implications of increase in babies born with low birth weight are severe. A study published in the journal-Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome concluded: A clear phenomenological association has been demonstrated by many epidemiological studies between Low Birth Weight (LBW) and increased risk later in life.

This is the case for diseases such as Insulin Resistance (IR), mortality by ischemic heart disease (IHD), Multiple sclerosis (MS), Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), Hypertension (HT), dyslipidemia, obesity, breast and testicular cancer and end-stage renal disease.

Others are osteoporosis, spontaneous hypothyroidism, adult asthma and hearing loss, cardiac hypertrophy, depression, liver cirrhosis, schizophrenia, polycystic ovary syndrome, precocious pubarche, hypospadias, cryptorchidism, low scores of alertness, mood instability, significant differences in academic and professional achievement.

“In conclusion, under-nutrition during neonatal life plays a critical role, beyond prenatal development, in the long-term programming of health and disease. This opens a variety of opportunities and challenges to primarily prevent chronic diseases such as stature deficits, endocrine, metabolic and neurodevelopmental disturbances during childhood and several diseases as those above mentioned, during adulthood.


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