Low Birth Weight and Premature Birth May Increase Risk of Adulthood Hip Replacement

Premature Baby GirlPrematurity and low birth weight increase the risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and reduced bone mass. Now a new study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research suggests that low birth weight and premature birth may also increase the risk for hip replacement during adulthood.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 15 million babies are born prematurely each year, making the health risks associated with premature birth a serious issue. Worldwide, premature birth affects five to 18 percent of babies.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that results in degradation of joints, which causes decreased movement, pain, muscle atrophy, and lax ligaments. The American College of Rheumatology states that the lifetime risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip is approximately 25 percent.

Explains lead researcher Professor Flavia Cicuttini of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University and Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia:

“Currently there are no disease-modifying medications available to treat osteoarthritis, which makes understanding the risk factors associated with osteoarthritis so important for improving prevention of this disabling disease.”

The present study examined data from 3,604 participants involved in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study. Of the total participants, 75 had hip replacements, 122 had low birth weight only, 144 were only preterm, and 135 had both low birth weight and preterm birth.

The researchers discovered that individuals who required hip replacement during adulthood had higher rates of low birth weight and premature birth compared to individuals who did not undergo hip replacements. The results of the study were independent of age, sex, body mass index (BMI), education level, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and physical activity.

In other words, premature birth and low birth weight appear to increase the risk for adulthood hip replacement.

Comments Professor Cicuttini:

“Our findings suggest that individuals born prematurely or with low birth weight are more likely to need hip replacement surgery for osteoarthritis in adulthood. While further investigation is needed to confirm these findings, identifying those at greatest risk for hip osteoarthritis and providing early interventions may help reduce the incidence of this debilitating disease.”

The researchers hypothesize that the cause of the increased risk may be via the mechanisms of acetabular dysplasia and reduced bone mass associated with prematurity and low birth weight.

Although additional research is needed to confirm the findings and to determine the cause of the association, the findings of the study may help identify individuals at increased risk for hip osteoarthritis.


Association of low birth weight and preterm birth with the incidence of knee and hip arthroplasty for osteoarthritis:;jsessionid=D68A4D82FA0575226926B7BEC5187D9B.f01t02
Low birth weight, preterm birth may increase risk for hip replacement in adulthood:

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