Childhood growth and adult hypertension in a population of high birth weight

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Low birth weight has consistently been associated with increased adult blood pressure. The relative importance of childhood growth is, however, less well established. This study examined sex-specific associations between childhood growth and adult blood pressure in 2120 subjects born from 1921 to 1935 in Reykjavik who were recruited into a longitudinal study in 1967-1991. Size at birth and growth at regular intervals between 8 and 13 years were collected from national archives. Hypertensive males did not differ from normotensive males at birth but were increasingly taller and of higher body mass index between 8 and 13 years. No differences in adult height were observed between hypertensive and normotensive males. For boys, growth-velocity (change in growth per year) for body mass index and height between 8 to 13 years was positively associated (P<0.05) with adult blood pressure. The association for body mass index-velocity was fully accounted for by concurrent body size, whereas height-velocity was independent of birth weight and concurrent body size. Males in the highest compared with the lowest tertile in the height-velocity distribution had 66% increased risks of hypertension (95% CI: 15% to 139% increased risks of hypertension) corresponding with 5.0 mm Hg increase (95% CI: 1.5 to 8.5 mm Hg increase) and 3.1 mm Hg increase (95% CI: 1.1 to 5.0 mm Hg increase) in systolic and diastolic blood pressures, respectively. Hypertensive females weighed less at birth but did not differ markedly from normotensive girls between 8 and 13 years, and no association was observed for growth-velocity. In conclusion, rapid linear growth between 8 and 13 years predicts elevated adult blood pressure in boys. This association is likely to reflect relatively early onset of puberty among hypertensive males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Other keywords

  • blood pressure
  • cohort studies
  • growth
  • hypertension
  • puberty
  • uric acid


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