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Small babies may raise heart risks for mothers

Mothers who give birth to small but non-premature babies may be at an increased risk of heart disease, research has shown.

Having a small-for-gestational-age (SGA) baby raises the chances of heart disease later in life, say scientists.

More than 6,600 women took part in the research, part of a United States public health study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, between 1999 and 2006.

SGA was defined as giving birth to a baby weighing less than five pounds eight ounces, or 2.5 kilograms, at or after 37 weeks of pregnancy. Women who delivered SGA infants had a 9.6% chance of developing heart disease compared with odds of 5.7% for mothers of normal weight babies.

Scientists believe low levels of natural substances that simulate blood vessel growth and repair may be involved. But they caution that any explanation remains speculative at present.

The findings are reported in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.

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