BMC research notes 2017 09 0810(1) 469 doi 10.1186/s13104-017-2791-6
Intrauterine growth restriction affects 3% of newborns; and the lightest 10% of whom are classified as small for gestational age (SGA). These low-birth weight newborns are at increased risk of neonatal morbidity such as hypoxia and hypoglycaemia. In later life, they are at higher risk of several age-related diseases such as cardiovascular and metabolic disorders and dementia. As having short telomeres is also associated with these diseases, we tested if these newborns might already start with shorter telomeres at birth.
Relative telomere lengths were determined using quantitative real-time PCR in cord blood samples from 195 newborns of Chinese ancestry. Based on the telomere length normalised to a single copy gene and a reference DNA sample as internal control, we found statistically significant correlations between relative telomere length and both unadjusted and gestational age-adjusted birth weight, with the lighter newborns having shorter telomeres. The SGA birth weight group comprising the bottom 10% of the samples also had the shortest telomeres compared to the medium and heaviest birth weight groups.
Our results indicate that there is reduction of cord blood telomere length for newborns with lower birth weight.