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Babies Born with Thin Placenta TWICE as Likely to Die of Sudden Heart Failure

Babies Born with Thin Placenta TWICE as Likely to Die of Sudden Heart Failure

Doctors should take measurements of the placenta at birth to identify babies who are at risk of sudden cardiac death.

New research has revealed that babies born with a thin placenta are more than twice as likely to die of sudden cardiac failure when they are older. Health experts are debating whether or not to introduce a national screening programme to identify young people at risk of cardiac arrest. They will also be calling for more life-saving defibrillators to be available in public places.

The stark fact is that here are no warning signs when an apparently healthy person is at risk of sudden cardiac death. Sadly 100s of young people including children die every year in the UK, often when playing a sport. In March footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed while playing in a match and survived only because there was a cardiologist in the crowd.

The new theory is that a thin placenta can affect the quality of a baby's development in the womb because it reduces the flow of nutrients between mother and baby so it can affect the way the baby's heart develops.

Professor David Barker, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Southampton, said it was vital at births for a placenta's characteristics to be recorded. He said: 'We should routinely note the measurements after birth. We know the thicker the placenta the better, and that a thin placenta is associated with sudden death.'

Andy Burnham, Shadow Health Secretary said: 'It feels as if more youngsters than ever are being affected. It's time to take a more structured view to see what we can do.'

November 2012

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