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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Higher Birth Weight May Increase Risk for Tumors in Some Children

Higher birth weights may increase the risk of optic brain tumors affecting the optic nerve in children who are predisposed to developing brain tumors, according to research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

[Photo: Dr. Kimberly Johnson]

Researchers analyzed data for 606 children with Neurofibromatosis Type1 (NF1), a genetic disorder that predisposes children to brain tumors. Data included parental age, birth weight, family history, assisted reproductive technology, maternal vitamin supplements, and parental smoking.

They compared those data with the incidence of pediatric brain tumors, including optic pathway gliomas (OPGs), slow growing tumors around the optic nerve that can impair a child’s vision.

“We observed no significant associations between any of the assessed characteristics with the exception of birth weight,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Kimberly Johnson, associate professor at the Brown School.

“These results suggest that higher birth weights increase OPG risk in individuals with NF1. Birth weight could be a marker for increased exposure to growth factors that promote tumor growth.”

The study was published March 25 in Cancer Epidemiology.

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