By Smarty — One of many Digestive blogs on SmartLivingNetwork.com
A recent study has shown that there is an increased risk of future development of irritable bowel syndrome for underweight babies. Norwegian researchers studied 3,334 sets of twins and found evidence linking IBS to low birth weights.
The study followed 3,334 sets of twins, 1,250 of which were identical. They screened for health issues, symptoms of IBS and birth weights. Results showed that the rate of IBS for the entire group of twins was 5.4%; however among women it was 7% and men 3%. Identical twins were much more likely to both have irritable bowel syndrome. Age of onset was on average 18 years for men, and 17 years for women. Those whose birth weight was less than 3.3 pounds were 2.5 times more likely to develop IBS later on in life than twins who weighed 5.5 pounds or more. As it turns out, as birth weight dropped, the risk of IBS increased. Among twins, the one with the smaller birth weight was typically the one to develop IBS. Additionally, babies who weighed less than 3.3 pounds at birth developed IBS on average 7.7 years earlier than those who weighed more than 3.3 pounds at birth.
Other twin studies have shown that a low birth rate seems to affect many aspects of the baby's overall health. Some of these may not show up until much later in life. In general, a birth weight of less than 5.5 pounds increases the risk of illness and disease in general; that risk increases as birth weight decreases. Babies who are born weighing less than 5.5 pounds are suspected to be lacking in nutrients, which may lead to underdeveloped organs and systems. They are more likely to develop heart disease, hypertension and non-insulin diabetes.
It appears that a lack of fetal nutrition seems to disturb the development of organs and systems in the baby's body. This study has shown that the bowel and the nervous system seem to have suffered due to lower birth weights. It's a new finding, and will need to be studied further in order to fully understand the connection. Especially with twins, where one twin is usually larger than the other, the small twin may suffer as a result. However, experts are quick to point out another possible reason for the results. While there seems to be a genetic connection, the results could also be due to parents reacting to the underweight twin. They may over-feed the infant or feed the smaller infant differently than they do the other.
We have to keep a positive perspective here. While delivering a tiny baby may seem very scary to parents, the baby will more than likely grow into a fully functioning adult. A recent study was published which followed extremely low birth weight babies (1 to 2 pounds) for 20 years and found most of them to be socially and psychologically at par with their peers who weighed normal amounts at birth. Some extremely low birth weight babies developed conditions such as autism, blindness, cerebral palsy and other impaired mental abilities, but still grew into functioning adults. We have to remember too that science is progressing exponentially. While 20 years ago we may not have known enough about low weight babies, we now know more than ever. An underweight baby has every chance for a normal adulthood.
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