Early Weight Gain, Linear Growth, and Mid-Childhood Blood Pressure
A Prospective Study in Project Viva
In recent years, the prevalence of hypertension and prehypertension increased markedly among children and adolescents, highlighting the importance of identifying determinants of elevated blood pressure early in life. Low birth weight and rapid early childhood weight gain are associated with higher future blood pressure. However, few studies have examined the timing of postnatal weight gain in relation to later blood pressure, and little is known regarding the contribution of linear growth. We studied 957 participants in Project Viva, an ongoing US prebirth cohort. We examined the relations of gains in body mass index z-score and length/height z-score during 4 early life age intervals (birth to 6 months, 6 months to 1 year, 1 to 2 years, and 2 to 3 years) with blood pressure during mid-childhood (6–10 years) and evaluated whether these relations differed by birth size. After accounting for confounders, each additional z-score gain in body mass index during birth to 6 months and 2 to 3 years was associated with 0.81 (0.15, 1.46) and 1.61 (0.33, 2.89) mm Hg higher systolic blood pressure, respectively. Length/height gain was unrelated to mid-childhood blood pressure, and there was no evidence of effect modification by birth size for body mass index or length/height z-score gain. Our findings suggest that more rapid gain in body mass index during the first 6 postnatal months and in the preschool years may lead to higher systolic blood pressure in mid-childhood, regardless of size at birth. Strategies to reduce accrual of excess adiposity during early life may reduce mid-childhood blood pressure, which may also impact adult blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
- Received October 10, 2015.
- Revision received October 25, 2015.
- Accepted November 15, 2015.
- © 2015 American Heart Association, Inc.