-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Women who suffered abuse
in childhood are at increased risk of having low birth weight
babies, a new study indicates.
It also found that poverty during childhood and substance use
during adolescence and pregnancy boosts the chances of having low
birth weight babies, who are at increased risk for death before
their first birthday and chronic health problems.
About 8 percent of babies born in the United States each year
have a low birth weight -- less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle examined
data from 136 mothers who had been part of a study since childhood.
They found that women who suffered emotional, physical or sexual
abuse or poverty in childhood were more likely to smoke, drink or
use drugs during pregnancy, which increases the risk of having a
low birth weight baby.
"Our findings suggest that a mother's economic position in childhood and her experience of maltreatment during childhood have implications for her children born years later," study author Amelia Gavin, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, said in a university news release.
"What is important about this study is that it was the mother's experience of poverty and maltreatment in childhood, not her poverty or depression or obesity in adulthood, that contributed to her infant's low birth weight," she added.
Doctors should ask prospective mothers about any childhood
maltreatment and offer help to those at risk for substance abuse
during pregnancy, Gavin suggested.
The study was published online recently in the
Journal of Adolescent Health.
The March of Dimes has more about
low birth weight.
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