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The researchers found that preterm birth and low birth weight were linked with increased risk of hip replacement. This association was independent of age, sex, body-mass index, physical activity levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking or level of education.
Although the study found an association between hip replacement due to osteoarthritis and being born prematurely or at a low birth weight, the study wasn't designed to prove that those factors caused the need for a hip replacement.
The researchers found no significant connection between low birth weight or preterm birth and knee replacement due to osteoarthritis.
The study was published recently in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
"Our findings suggest that individuals born prematurely or with low birth weight are more likely to need hip replacement surgery for osteoarthritis in adulthood," concluded lead investigator Flavia Cicuttini, a professor at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University in Australia.
"While further investigation is needed to confirm these findings, identifying those at greatest risk for hip osteoarthritis and providing early interventions may help reduce the incidence of this debilitating disease," Cicuttini added.
About 27 million Americans older than 25 have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is the most common cause of disability in the United States.
-- Robert Preidt
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