New research at the University of Michigan suggests that every 1.1 pounds of birth weight reduces the possibility of developing tuberculosis later in life by almost 46 percent in identical twins.
According to Eduardo Villamor, study author and associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health, tuberculosis risk came down by 87 percent for each pound in males, whereas it was only about 16 percent for every 1.1 pounds of birth weight in girls.
Villamor, who worked with a team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and began the research at Harvard, also pointed out that low birth weight of babies is widespread problem in developing countries, but prevalent elsewhere too.
Although Villamor said it is too early to conclude that insufficient prenatal growth leads to clinical tuberculosis, it may be the case.
He added: "Prenatal exposure to environmental insults, including maternal malnutrition, could program what happens later on in terms of our immune responses to infection, possibly through programming of the immune system.... This study is an example of that."
The study, "Evidence for an effect of fetal growth on the risk of tuberculosis," will be published in the Feb. 1 edition of the Journal Infectious Disease.