Preterm birth and low birth weight (LBW) have been linked to hip bone shape abnormalities and hip osteoarthritis (OA) requiring total hip arthroplasty (THA) in adulthood, according to the results of a systematic review published in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

The investigators sought to examine the current evidence to determine whether there is a link between LBW and preterm birth and hip OA. In addition, they assessed the potential cost implications associated with THA. A number of databases were searched  between January 1947 and August 2017 to identify studies that examined the link between preterm birth or LBW and hip bone abnormalities and hip OA. In addition, researchers conducted an economic assessment using Australian data between 2012 and 2015 to estimate the costs associated with THA that were likely attributable to preterm birth or LBW at a national level.

A total of 5 studies were selected for the analysis. Hip bone shape abnormalities that were evaluated included immature hip and developmental hip dysplasia, and hip OA included osteophytes and THA. A causal link was identified between LBW or preterm birth and hip OA. Of the 30,477 THA procedures performed for OA in 2015 in Australia, 5791 were estimated to be attributable to preterm birth and 5273 to LBW. In terms of cost, this equates to a total annual cost of THA of AU $145,136,082 and AU $132,150,222 in the preterm and LBW populations, respectively.


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The current data demonstrate a substantial financial burden associated with THA in individuals in Australia. Because of the current lack of effective treatment and preventive strategies for hip OA, additional research is warranted in this area, which might help reduce the future burden of hip OA. This might enable targeted monitoring and early interventions that could potentially decrease the population burden of THA later in life.

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Reference

Hussain SM, Ackerman IN, Wang Y, Zomer E, Cicuttini FM. Could low birth weight and preterm birth be associated with significant burden of hip osteoarthritis? A systematic review. Arthritis Res Ther. 2018;20(1):121.