Growth, obesity, and cardiac structures in early childhood: The generation r study
Cardiac structural adaptations in response to physical growth and obesity in older children have been identified and might have long-term consequences. We examined the associations of growth and obesity with cardiac structures during the first 2 years of life. In a population-based prospective cohort study among 974 children, left atrial diameter, left ventricular diastolic diameter, left ventricular mass, aortic root diameter, and fractional shortening were repeatedly measured by ultrasound at the ages of 1.5, 6, and 24 months. Height, weight, and subcutaneous fat mass were measured at the same visits, and blood pressure was measured at the age of 24 months. Height, weight, body mass index, and body surface area were positively associated with all of the cardiac structures during the first 2 years of life. At the age of 24 months, as compared with normal weight children, obese children had a greater left ventricular mass (1.04 SD score [95% CI: 0.20 to 1.89]) and a higher fractional shortening (0.91 SD score [95% CI: 0.02 to 1.80]). Nonsignificant tendencies were found for left atrial diameter, left ventricular diastolic diameter, and aortic root diameter. Our results suggest that normal variation in growth affects cardiac structures in early life. Overweight and obese children show cardiac adaptations already at the age of 2 years. Further studies are needed to assess whether these structural adaptations influence the risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.