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The Life-Course Association of Birth-Weight Genes with Self-Rated Health


Tong, Guangyu & Guo, Guang (2020). The Life-Course Association of Birth-Weight Genes with Self-Rated Health. Biodemography and Social Biology, 65(3), 268-286.


This study examines the impact of genes associated with normal-range birth weight (2500-4500 grams) on self-rated health in mid-to-late life course. Fifty-eight previously identified genetic variants that explain the variation in the normal-range birth weight were used to construct a genetic measure of birth weight for the non-Hispanic white sample from the Health and Retirement Study. Our results show that the genetic tendency toward higher birth weight predicts better self-rated health in mid-to-late life course net of various demographic, socioeconomic, and health behavioral factors. We also examine the heterogeneous effects of birth-weight genes across birth cohorts and age groups. Moreover, to clarify the paradox that higher birth weight can predict both better self-rated health and higher BMI, we show the positive association between birth weight genes and BMI can only hold within the normal-range BMI (18 ≤ BMI < 30). Overall, these findings suggest the genetic factors underlying the normal-range birth weight can have life-course impacts on health.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type


Year Published


Journal Title

Biodemography and Social Biology


Tong, Guangyu
Guo, Guang

Data Set/Study

Health and Retirement Study (HRS)


United States of America