Birth weight and quality of life in midlife: a 50-year follow-up study of 2079 individuals in Denmark

  • Emilie Rune HegelundEmail author
  • Cathrine Lawaetz Wimmelmann
  • Jenna Marie Strizzi
  • Anna Paldam Folker
  • Erik Lykke Mortensen
  • Trine Flensborg-Madsen



Low birth weight has been associated with a higher risk of reduced quality of life (QoL) in children, adolescents, and young adults, but the influence seems to diminish over time. However, previous studies have mainly focused on health-related QoL and compared individuals with low birth weight with individuals without low birth weight. The purpose of the present cohort study was to investigate the influence of the entire range of birth weights on three distinct measures of QoL in midlife.


The study population consisted of all live-born singletons from the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort (CPC, 1959–1961) who participated in a 50-year follow-up examination in 2009–2011 (N = 2079). Birth weight was measured by three pediatricians at birth. QoL was measured at the follow-up by the participants’ scores on three QoL self-report measures: The Satisfaction With Life Scale, the Vitality Scale of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey, and a single-item QoL measure based on the question: “How is your quality of life at the moment?”. General linear regression and binary logistic regression were used to estimate the association between birth weight and QoL in midlife.


Small, curvilinear associations of birth weight with life satisfaction, vitality, and the single-item QoL measure were found, suggesting that both low and high birth weights increase the risk of low satisfaction with life, low vitality and low QoL.


The study findings suggest that low and high-range birth weight exert a lasting influence on distinct, but complementary aspects of QoL in midlife.


Birth weight Quality of life Measurement of quality of life Cohort studies Denmark 



We thank A. L. Villumsen and B. Zachau-Christiansen for their role in the establishment of the Copenhagen Perinatal Cohort and we thank the steering committee for permission to conduct this study. The Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank was funded by generous grants from the VELUX FOUNDATION (VELUX 26145 and 31539). This manuscript was prepared in collaboration with members of the CAMB steering committee. The list of the CAMB steering committee and those responsible for the collection of historical data can be found at


This study was funded by a grant from IMK Almene Fond to Trine Flensborg-Madsen.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

According to Danish legislation, no ethics approval is needed for the present study. The study is covered by permissions from the Danish Data Protection Agency to the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 24 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 603 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.National Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkCopenhagen KDenmark
  3. 3.Center for Healthy AgingUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen NDenmark

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