Aims: To investigate the effect of birth size and weight gain during childhood on blood pressure and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) in young adulthood. Methods: The relationship of birth size with systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and cIMT was investigated in 243 adults, aged 18-24 years. SBP, DBP, and cIMT were also analyzed in 4 subgroups: subjects either born small for gestational age with short stature (SGA-S) or with catch-up growth (SGA-CU), or born appropriate for gestational age with idiopathic short stature or with normal stature (controls). Results: Adult weight SDS and fat mass were positively related to SBP and DBP, adjusted for birthweight SDS which was not related to SBP and DBP. Birth size was also not related to cIMT. Subgroup analyses showed no differences in blood pressure between subgroups, but cIMT was significantly greater in SGA-CU subjects than in controls after correction for age, gender and artery diameter. This difference became borderline significant after additional correction for smoking and SBP. Conclusion: Not birth size but childhood weight gain, especially fat mass, determines young adult blood pressure. Postnatal catch-up growth appears to have a greater influence on cardiovascular disease markers than birth size. Copyright

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Hormone Research in Paediatrics
Department of Pediatrics

Leunissen, R., Kerkhof, G., Stijnen, T., & Hokken-Koelega, A. (2012). Effect of birth size and catch-up growth on adult blood pressure and carotid intima-media thickness. Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 77(6), 394–401. doi:10.1159/000338791