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Keywords:

  • Birth rate;
  • cohort studies;
  • epidemiology;
  • hospitalization;
  • morbidity;
  • preterm infant;
  • reproduction;
  • small-for-gestational-age infant

Citation Sydsjö G. Long-term Consequences of Non-Optimal Birth Characteristics. Am J Reprod Immunol 2011; 66 (Suppl. 1): 81–87

Problem  The intrauterine milieu, gestational length as well as size at birth have a profound impact on the individual’s mental, physical health and development both in childhood as well as in adult life.

Method of study  This paper reviews the associations between preterm birth and restricted fetal growth with neuro-developmental sequelae, including increased symptoms of psychiatric disorder in childhood and early adulthood. There is also evidence that physical morbidity such as the metabolic syndrome is more common in adult life. In addition, preterm birth and restricted fetal growth have been shown to be related to respiratory disease, infectious disease, and even malignancy. Morbidity, mental and physical as well as personality/intellectual traits hugely impact on family planning and reproductive performance in adults. As restricted fetal growth may alter organ structure and functions, it is likely to also influence subsequent fertility and/or reproductive health.

Results  Individuals with non-optimal birth characteristics appears to have a reduction in childbearing and a deviant reproduction pattern compared to controls.

Conclusion  Future studies with sophisticated models for measuring the most vulnerable period of birth for children who have a low birth weight or who are at risk for being born preterm are needed to be able to explore the underlying biological mechanisms and also to plan for prevention as well as for interventions during pregnancy.