Background: Birth weight has been found to predict cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Pulse wave velocity (PWV), a marker of arterial stiffness, has been associated with cardiovascular risk factors. We have previously reported an association between birth weight and blood pressure (BP). In this study, we investigated the association of birth weight with PWV, and the relation between birth weight, pulse wave velocity and BP in mid-adulthood.
Methods: The Bogalusa Heart Study (BHS) is a population-based longitudinal study to investigate the natural development of cardiovascular risk factors. In the 2001 survey, brachial-ankle PWV (baPWV) was measured as an indicator of arterial stiffness. Of the 1203 participants in that survey, 707 had complete data on birth weight and PWV, which were utilized for this study.
Results: In this study, birth weight was inversely correlated with baPWV, pulse pressure, and systolic and diastolic BP (r = -0.10; r = -0.10; r = -0.13 and r = -0.09, respectively; p ≤ 0.01 for all). After adjustment, birth weight was inversely associated with baPWV. On average, baPWV decreased by 0.23 m/s (95% confidence interval: -0.44, -0.03 m/s) for each 1 kg increase in birth weight. Birth weight (inversely) and baPWV were independently associated with systolic BP (B = -2.05; 95% confidence interval: -3.27, -0.84 and B = 2.99; 95% confidence interval: 2.58, 3.40, respectively).
Conclusions: Lower birth weight is associated with higher baPWV. The link between birth weight and systolic BP may be partially explained by the association of birth weight with PWV.