The goal was to determine whether the components of low lung function in adulthood were associated with low birth weight in a Chinese population.


A retrospective cohort study was conducted from December 1995 to August 1996. A total of 627 men and women who were born between 1948 and 1954 were recruited; lung function indices were tested and respiratory diseases were examined in the Peking Union Medical College Hospital. Information on variables was recorded, and multivariate analysis of variance was performed to evaluate associations.


Significant associations were observed between birth weight and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and peak expiratory flow (PEF) in adulthood, after adjustment for maternal age, gestational week, offspring's gender, birth height, history of dyspnea and asthma, lung diseases before 16 years of age, lung diseases after measles and pneumonia before 16 years of age, cough with sputum within 2 years, current asthma, taking medicine for asthma, adult BMI, male alcohol consumption, and male smoking (P < .001). Linear trends between birth weight and FEV1, FVC, and PEF were noted (P < .001, 1-way analysis of variance); FEV1, FVC, and PEF values increased with increasing birth weight. Low birth weight was associated with the FEV1/FVC predictive value (P < .05), but there was no linear trend (P > .05).


Low birth weight may increase the prevalence of and risk for low lung function in adulthood in the Chinese population. The development of lung function may be affected by hypogenesis in utero.

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