Low birth weight as a predictor of adverse health outcomes during adulthood in twins: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Sapha Hassan, Shayesteh Jahanfar, Joseph Inungu, Jeffrey M. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Low birth weight might affect adverse health outcomes during a lifetime. Our study analyzes the association between low birth weight and negative health outcomes during adulthood in twin populations. Methods: Searches were conducted using databases inclusive of MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and EBSCO. Observational studies on twins with low birth weight and adverse health outcomes during adulthood were included. Two reviewers independently screened the papers, and a third reviewer resolved the conflicts between the two reviewers. Following abstract and title screening, full-texts were screened to obtain eligibility. Eligible full-text articles were then assessed for quality using a modified Downs and Black checklist. Studies with a score within one standard deviation of the mean were included in the analysis. A fixed-effect model was used for analysis. Results: 3987 studies were screened describing low birth weight as a risk factor for adverse health outcomes during adulthood for all twelve-body systems (circulatory, digestive, endocrine, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal, urinary, and integumentary systems). One hundred fourteen articles made it through full-text screening, and 14 of those articles were assessed for quality. Five papers were selected to perform two meta-analyses for two outcomes: asthma and cerebral palsy. For asthma, the meta-analyses of three studies suggested a higher odds of low birth weight twins developing asthma (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.24-1.44, I2 = 77%). Meta-analysis for cerebral palsy included two studies and suggested a 4.88 times higher odds of low birth weight twins developing cerebral palsy compared to normal birth weight twins (OR 4.88, 95% CI 2.34-10.19, I2 = 79%). We could not find enough studies for other adverse health outcomes to pool data for a Forest plot. Conclusions: The odds of low birth weight were found to be high in both asthma and cerebral palsy. There are not enough studies of similar nature (study types, similar body systems) to ensure a meaningful meta-analysis. We recommend that future research considers following up on twins to obtain data about adverse health outcomes during their adult lives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number186
JournalSystematic Reviews
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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