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Achim Fieß, Hisham Elbaz, Christina A. Korb, Stefan Nickels, Andreas Schulz, Thomas Münzel, Philipp S. Wild, Manfred E. Beutel, Irene Schmidtmann, Karl J. Lackner, Tunde Peto, Norbert Pfeiffer, Alexander K. Schuster; Low Birth Weight Is Linked to Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Results From the Population-Based Gutenberg Health Study (GHS). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(14):4943-4950. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.19-27964.
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This study analyzed whether low birth weight is linked to prevalence and incidence of age-related maculopathy (AMD) in adulthood.
The Gutenberg Health Study (GHS) is a population-based, observational cohort study in Germany. GHS participants at an age from 35 to 74 years were included. An ophthalmologic examination with fundus photography was carried out. Fundus photographs were graded according to the Rotterdam Grading Scheme for AMD at baseline and at the 5-year follow-up examination. Participants were divided into three different birth weight groups (low: <2500 g; normal: 2500–4000 g; and high: >4000 g). Poisson regression analysis with adjustment for several confounders was used to assess associations between birth weight and AMD prevalence (overall, early, late AMD) and 5-year cumulative incidence.
Overall, 6492 participants were included (3538 female, aged 50.7 ± 10.4 years). Prevalence of total AMD was highest in the low birth weight group (11.2%; 40/358) compared to the normal birth weight group (6.5%; 346/5328) and the high birth weight group (8.4%; 68/806). Low birth weight was associated with overall AMD prevalence (prevalence ratio [PR] = 1.54, P = 0.006), and in particular with early AMD prevalence (PR = 1.52; P = 0.01). No association was observed between low birth weight and cumulative 5-year incidence of AMD.
Our analyses indicate that low birth weight may lead to higher prevalence of retinal diseases in later life, as we observed for AMD. Our results are limited due to missing data and loss to follow-up, but may be a first hint that AMD has one of its origins in early life.
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