Epigenetics (Environment & Genetics)

DNA Methylation Patterns At Birth Predict Health Outcomes In
Young Adults Born Very Low Birthweight

Individuals born very low birthweight (VLBW) are at increased risk of impaired heart / blood vessel function and lung function in adulthood.

To identify markers to predict future risk, DNA methylation (changes in genes) were analysed at birth and 28 years and compared with age-matched, normal birthweight controls. The goal was to identify markers in DNA that may predict health outcomes in VLBW adults.

The authors think this is the first report where altered DNA methylation at birth in VLBW infants has been associated with health outcomes as adults – particularly their heart and blood vessel health. These changes may provide informative about future adult health outcomes and guide early preventative care to improve adult health.

The authors noted that individuals are now in their fourth decade and at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other health conditions. In New Zealand there is no regular monitoring of the ongoing health and wellbeing of this population group, or a way to trigger interventions to prevent the start of harmful health outcomes.

Click here to read the preprint article.

Vicky A Cameron, Gregory T Jones, L. John Horwood et al. (2022) DNA Methylation Patterns At Birth Predict Health Outcomes In Young Adults Born Very Low Birthweight, PREPRINT (Version 1)

Increased Adiposity in Adults Born Preterm and Their Children

This study acknowledges that previous research demonstrated that preterm birth is associated with abnormalities in growth, body composition, and metabolism during childhood. From their primary research, the team concluded that adults born preterm, particularly men, have markedly increased fat mass and altered fat distribution. A similar increase in abdominal adiposity was observed in the term-born offspring of parents born preterm, indicating that adverse outcomes associated with preterm birth may extend to the next generation. Click here to read the full article.

Mathai, S., Derraik, J., Cutfield, W., Dalziel, S., Harding, J., Biggs, J., Jefferies, C. and Hofman, P., 2013. Increased adiposity in adults born preterm and their children. Public Library of Science one, 8(11), pg e81840