Objective Short telomeres are associated with adult cardiovascular disease. Our aim was to determine whether small-for-gestational-age (SGA) newborns have shortened telomeres compared with appropriately grown controls.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Large tertiary referral unit in Trent, UK.
Population Seventy-two women who delivered at 35–42 weeks of gestation were recruited; 34 delivered SGA babies (less than or equal to the third birthweight centile) and 38 had appropriately grown babies (greater than the tenth centile).
Methods Maternal and cord blood samples were collected at delivery. A Southern blot of DNA from these samples was hybridised with a 32P-labelled telomeric probe and telomere length was measured.
Main outcome measures Mean maternal and newborn telomere length.
Results Maternal and newborn telomere lengths were significantly correlated in both the SGA and the control groups (r2= 0.25, P < 0.0001). Telomere lengths were similar in both maternal (control 8.41 ± 0.9 kb versus SGA 8.29 ± 1.0 kb, P= 0.57) and newborn (control 10.36 ± 1.5 kb versus SGA 10.33 ± 1.3 kb, P= 0.93) cohorts in the two groups.
Conclusions Intrauterine events associated with impaired fetal growth do not appear to be associated with increased telomere shortening.