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High birth weight is associated with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) DRB1*13 in full-term infants

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In cord blood banking, substantial amounts of data on infants and cord blood are gathered at high cost, including birth weights and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes. As certain HLA alleles have been associated with protective host responses, it is possible that an HLA allele, or another factor linked to it, might even affect normal intrauterine growth. We explored cord blood bank data (n = 1381 infants) to elucidate whether there is an association between birth weight and HLA class II (DRB1) alleles. HLA DRB1 data were available from 1263 infants. We observed an association between birth weight and HLA DRB1*13, which was over-represented among full-term infants with the highest birth weights. The association remained when the birth weight was corrected for varying gestational age (relative birth weight) according to gender (P = 0.015). After correction of the P-value for multiple comparisons, the association was not statistically significant. However, when the birth weights of all infants were analysed for the effect of DRB1*13, infants positive for HLA DRB1*13 (n = 319) were found to have higher birth weights than infants negative for this allele (n = 944; median 3690 g vs. 3650 g, respectively; P = 0.044). Although the difference in median birth weight was only 40 g, it may be considered significant because it appeared after segregation of the infants into two groups according to the single HLA class II allele group earlier associated with protection against, for example, childhood type 1 diabetes and certain infectious diseases. The present finding may thus suggest identification of a new factor affecting normal intrauterine growth.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-02-01

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