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Giving birth to a large baby significantly raises risk of breast cancer
Giving birth to a large baby significantly raises risk of breast cancer

(July 17, 2012 - Insidermedicine) Women who give birth to large babies are at increased risk of breast cancer, according to a report published in PLoS ONE.

Here are some complications that arise from gaining too much weight in pregnancy:

-Excessive weight gain during pregnancy has been shown to increase risk of birthing a very large baby
-Large babies sometimes follow a growth trajectory to become large in preschool, adolescence and adulthood
-Risks for the mother include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and increased likelihood of cesarean section

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch examined data on over 24,000 women from two large studies--the Framingham Offspring Birth History Study and the First and Second Trimester Evaluation of Risk for Aneuploidy (FASTER) trial.

Women from the Framingham study who gave birth to a baby in the highest quintile for weight--over 8.25 pounds--had a 2.5x increased risk of developing breast cancer, when compared to women whose babies were in the lower quintiles. This increased risk was independent of the mother's birth weight and other known risk factors for breast cancer. Women from the FASTER trial who gave birth to the largest babies were 25% more likely to have elevated levels of hormones believed to raise risk of breast cancer over the long term.

Today's research is the first to independently link birthing a large baby to risk of breast cancer. The report does, however, build on previous research demonstrating the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, especially during pregnancy.