Explaining Socioeconomic Inequalities in Childhood Blood Pressure and Prehypertension
The ABCD Study
Much remains to be understood about the socioeconomic inequalities in hypertension that continue to exist. We investigated the association of socioeconomic status with blood pressure and prehypertension in childhood. In a prospective cohort, 3024 five- to six-year–old children had blood pressure measurements and available information on potential explanatory factors, namely birth weight, gestational age, smoking during pregnancy, pregnancy-induced hypertension, familial hypertension, maternal body mass index, breastfeeding duration, domestic tobacco exposure, and body mass index. The systolic and diastolic blood pressures of children from mid-educated women were 1.0-mm Hg higher (95% CI, 0.4–1.7) and 0.9-mm Hg higher (95% CI, 0.3–1.4), and the blood pressures of children with low-educated women were 2.2-mm Hg higher (95% CI, 1.4–3.0) and 1.7-mm Hg higher (95% CI, 1.1–2.4) compared with children with high-educated women. Children with mid- (odds ratio, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.18–1.92) or low-educated mothers (odds ratio, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.35–2.42) were more likely to have prehypertension compared with children with high-educated mothers. Using path analyses, birth weight, breastfeeding duration, and body mass index were determined as having a role in the association of maternal education with offspring blood pressure and prehypertension. The socioeconomic gradient in hypertension appears to emerge from childhood as the results show a higher blood pressure and more prehypertension in children from lower socioeconomic status families. Socioeconomic disparities could be reduced by improving 3 factors in particular, namely birth weight, breastfeeding duration, and body mass index, but other factors might also play a role.
- Received August 31, 2012.
- Revision received October 1, 2012.
- Accepted October 2, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.