Fetal programming and systemic sclerosis

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Dec;213(6):839.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.07.034. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Objective: This study investigated whether birthweight is linked to an increased risk of the development of systemic sclerosis.

Study design: This was a multicenter case-control study with perinatal data that were obtained from 332 cases with systemic sclerosis and 243 control subjects. Birthweight was treated as a dichotomous variable (<2500 g vs ≥2500 g); low birthweight was defined as a weight <2500 g; small for gestational age was defined as birthweight <10th percentile for gestational age adjusted for sex. The relationship between systemic sclerosis and both low birthweight and small for gestational age was expressed with the crude (univariate analysis) and adjusted (multivariate analysis) odds ratio (OR).

Results: Significantly increased ORs were observed in the univariate analysis for low birthweight (OR, 2.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.39-5.05) and small for gestational age (OR, 2.60; 95% CI, 1.34-5.32) subjects. Similarly increased risks were confirmed for both conditions in the multivariate analysis (OR, 3.93; 95% CI, 1.92-8.07; and OR, 2.58; 95% CI, 1.28-5.19), respectively.

Conclusion: Low birthweight and small for gestational age at birth are risk factors for the adult onset of systemic sclerosis.

Keywords: autoimmune disease; birthweight; epigenetics; fetal programming; scleroderma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Birth Weight*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / epidemiology*