Population Study Article | Published:

Moderate altitude impacts birth weight: 30 years retrospective sibling analyses using record linkage data

Abstract

Objective

We investigated the effect of a change of altitude of maternal living address on infant birth weight.

Method

Data on infant birth weights of the first and second pregnancies from same women were extracted from all Austrian birth certificates between 1984 and 2016.

Results

A total of 544,624 pair pregnancies were identified and analyzed. We observed a statistically significant interaction (p < .0001) between altitudes of two births and birth weight. Among women having first birth at low altitude (200 m), the estimated second mean birth weight was 3567 g for those remained at low altitudes, and reduced to 3536 g for those ascended (1200 m). In contrast, among women having first births at high altitudes, the estimated birth weight of second birth at high altitude was 3414 g, yet increased to 3499 g compared to those descended to lower altitudes.

Conclusion

We demonstrated a longitudinal negative effect of altitude on birth weight within the same mother from first and second birth. This association is likely to be casual. Relocation of mothers within low-to-medium altitude level may have profound effects on infants’ birth weight.

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Author information

R.E. drafted the initial manuscript and reviewed the manuscript. T.W. designed the study, acquired and analysed the data, and reviewed the manuscript for important intellectual content. L.Y. designed the study, drafted the initial manuscript and reviewed the manuscript for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Thomas Waldhoer.

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