Birth Weight, Growth, and Blood Pressure
An Annual Follow-up Study of Children Aged 5 Through 21 Years
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Abstract Associations between birth weight and blood pressure have been found in children and adults. In this longitudinal study, the objective was to assess the relation between birth weight and blood pressure level and the change in blood pressure from childhood and young adolescence into adulthood. A cohort of 483 children from a middle-class community in the town of Zoetermeer in the Netherlands had annual measurements of blood pressure during an average follow-up period of 14 years. For 330 of these participants, initially aged 5 through 21 years, birth weight data were collected, which were related to blood pressure level and blood pressure change. An inverse association between birth weight and systolic blood pressure was found, with adjustment for current body height and weight, sex, and use of alcohol, cigarettes, and oral contraceptives. This inverse association was found for the total follow-up in 5- to 37- year-olds (regression coefficient: −2.4 mm Hg/kg; 95% confidence interval: −3.9 to −1.0, as well as in most individual age groups: 5 through 9 years (−0.6 mm Hg/kg, −3.2 to 2.0); 10 through 14 years (−2.5 mm Hg/kg, −4.7 to −0.4); 15 through 19 years (−3.1 mm Hg/kg, −4.9 to −1.2); 20 through 24 years (−2.7 mm Hg/kg, −4.6 to −0.9); 25 through 29 years (−2.0 mm Hg/kg, −3.9 to −0.01); and 30 through 37 years (−1.9 mm Hg/kg, −4.6 to 0.7). For diastolic blood pressure, there appeared to be an inverse association with birth weight in the age group of 30 through 37 years, both unadjusted (−2.0 mm Hg/kg, −4.6 to 0.5) and adjusted for risk factors other than sex (−2.3 mm Hg/kg, −4.7 to 0.1), although these findings were of borderline statistical significance. The results were independent of gestational age and were similar in the group of subjects with low birth weight but normal gestational age (−2.7 mm Hg/kg, −4.3 to −1.0). In relation to systolic blood pressure, birth weight showed a significant interaction with body mass index (regression coefficient, 0.02; SE=0.01; P=.05). There was no relation between birth weight and change in systolic or diastolic blood pressure with age. Our longitudinal study shows that birth weight is consistently inversely associated with systolic blood pressure level from childhood to young adulthood and with diastolic blood pressure in young adulthood. Birth weight is not related to change of blood pressure with increasing age. Low birth weight in combination with high current body mass index seems to be of particular importance in the development of high blood pressure.
- Received July 23, 1996.
- Revision received August 23, 1996.
- Accepted January 9, 1997.