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Birthweight research supervised by Loughborough academic wins best article award

A research study that includes contributions by a Loughborough academic has won a sought-after award from the Spanish Society for Epidemiology.

The paper titledNew birthweight charts according to parity and type of delivery for the Spanish population’ has been named the ‘Best Article’ of 2018 by the Society.

The study was published in the Gaceta Sanitaria (Health Gazette) - an international journal, which publishes English and Spanish articles, and the official scientific journal of the Sociedad Española de Salud Publica y Administración Sanitaria (Spanish Society of Public Health and Health Administration).

Loughborough University’s Barry Bogin, a Professor of Biological Anthropology, co-supervised the article alongside academics from Madrid Autonomous University.

The article focuses on the link between birthweight and parity (the number of births a woman has already had) and the type of delivery at birth (e.g. vaginal or caesarean-section) in Spain between 2010 and 2014.

Professor Bogin explains that birthweight is a sensitive indicator of an infant’s health. For example, newborns with a low birthweight are more likely to be associated with learning disabilities at school age, and could be more prone to diseases such as obesity and heart disease in adulthood.

Furthermore, the study also considers how factors such as the sex of the baby and the length of gestation (development inside the womb) may influence this.

The research findings suggest first-time mothers are more likely to have a baby with a significantly lower birthweight than higher parity women.

In addition, the study noted that newborns delivered by a caesarean section had a wider variation of birthweight in comparison to those with a more traditional birth (depending on gestational age).

The article, which saw José Manuel Terán, a PhD student at Madrid Autonomous University, take the role as senior author, also provides doctors and health workers with up-to-date information about desirable birthweights and risky birthweights.

Commenting on the Best Article prize, Professor Bogin said: “The award is a great honour. The journal Gaceta Sanitaria (Health Gazette) is an international journal published since 1987, and is widely-read across Europe and elsewhere.

“Our research team is investigating the health impacts of the 2008 global financial crisis that hit Spain very hard. In previous articles, we have documented the decline in birthweight since 2008 across almost all social and economic groups in Spain – a trend seen in other European nations as well. 

“This may portend serious problems in the next few years as birthweight is a sensitive predictor of later life health and economic productivity.” 

The Spanish Society of Epidemiology was founded in 1978 and has over 1,000 members. The society aims to promote the use of epidemiology – the study and analysis of the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health -- with the aim to improve health care systems, public health, and human well-being.

A full version of New birthweight charts according to parity and type of delivery for the Spanish population is available to read and download here.