J Epidemiol Community Health 63:163-165 doi:10.1136/jech.2008.077818
  • Short report

Early life diarrhoea and later blood pressure in a developing country: the 1982 Pelotas (Brazil) birth cohort study

Open Access
  1. G D Batty1,
  2. B L Horta2,
  3. G Davey Smith3,
  4. F C Barros4,
  5. C Victora2
  1. 1
    MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2
    Post-Graduate Programme in Epidemiology, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil
  3. 3
    Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  4. 4
    PAHO/WHO Latin American Centre for Perinatology, Montevideo, Uruguay
  1. Dr G D Batty, MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G12 8RZ, UK; david-b{at}
  • Accepted 1 September 2008
  • Published Online First 18 September 2008


Background: It has recently been hypothesised that acute dehydration in early childhood may “programme” increased blood pressure via salt retention. We examined whether there was an association between episodes of diarrhoea (a proxy for acute dehydration) and later measured blood pressure.

Methods: In the 1982 Pelotas birth cohort study (Brazil), parents/carers reported hospital admissions for diarrhoea in the first 12 and 20 months of study members’ lives. Blood pressure was subsequently measured directly in adolescence (aged 15, 18, 19 years) and early adulthood (aged 23 years).

Results: We found no evidence of an association between diarrhoea in the first 12 months of life and blood pressure measured at any point in adolescence or early adulthood. These findings were unchanged after adjustment for a range of covariates. Equally null results were apparent when diarrhoea admissions in the first 20 months of life, access to home sanitation and use of piped water were the exposures of interest.

Conclusions: Early life proxies for dehydration and diarrhoea were unrelated to later blood pressure in this examination, the most comprehensive to date, of the potential association.


  • Funding: Wellcome Trust, London, UK; Medical Research Council, London, UK.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Approval for interviews and medical examinations in the present study were obtained from the Pelotas Federal University Ethics Committee.