Infant birth weight and third trimester maternal plasma markers of vascular integrity: the MIREC Study (Lay summary)

Kumarathasan PVincent R, Bielecki A, Blais E, Blank K, Das D, Karthikeyan S, Cakmak S, Fisher M, Arbuckle TE, Fraser WD. Biomarkers. 2016 May;21(3):257-66. doi: 10.3109/1354750X.2015.1134663

Various factors including maternal nutrition, exposure to environmental chemicals, and socio-demographic variables (e.g., age, education, employment status) have been associated with adverse health outcomes for both mothers and their developing babies. Identifying biochemical reactions during pregnancy that are important to birth outcomes may shed some light on strategies to improve future child health.  The goal of this study was to examine whether factors affecting maternal blood vessels during pregnancy (cardiovascular markers) might be associated with infant birth weight.

In this preliminary analysis, maternal blood samples of 144 participants in the MIREC Study were analysed for various cardiovascular markers. Only pregnancies delivering live singleton infants were considered in this study.  Maternal blood pressure was measured when blood samples were collected.  Information from questionnaires and medical charts was available on maternal age, body mass index (BMI) prior to pregnancy, gestational age at delivery and infant birth weight.

The results of this study suggested that a combination of several maternal cardiovascular markers may be influencing infant birth weight.  These markers could be affecting maternal blood pressure as well as impacting blood flow from mother to fetus and thus affecting birth outcomes such as low birth weight.   Additional studies are needed to see whether similar results will be found in other populations of pregnant women, with the goal of a better understanding of adverse birth outcome pathways.