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Association of diarrhoea, poor hygiene and poor social conditions in childhood with blood pressure in adulthood
  1. Laura Anniina Kauhanen1,*,
  2. John W Lynch2,
  3. Hanna-Maaria Lakka1,
  4. Jussi Kauhanen1,
  5. George Davey Smith3
  1. 1 University of Kuopio, Finland;
  2. 2 University of South Australia, Australia;
  3. 3 University of Bristol, Finland
  1. To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: laura.kauhanen{at}


Background: Previous research has suggested that dehydration in infancy may lead to high blood pressure in later life due to sodium retention. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of poor hygiene of the child, poor social and poor housing conditions at home and diarrhoea in childhood as proxies for dehydration on high blood pressure in later life.

Methods: Data were from a subset of participants in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), a population-based cohort study in eastern Finland. Information on childhood factors was collected from school health records (n=952), from the 1930s to 1950s. Adult data were obtained from baseline examinations of the KIHD cohort (n=2682) in 1984-1989.

Results: The men who had poor hygiene in childhood had on average 4.07 mmHg (95% CI: 0.53-7.61) higher systolic blood pressure than the men who had good or satisfactory hygiene in childhood in the age-adjusted analysis. Reports of diarrhoea were not associated with adult blood pressure.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that poor hygiene and living in poor social conditions in childhood are associated with higher systolic blood pressure in adulthood. Reported childhood diarrhoea did not explain the link between hygiene and high blood pressure in adulthood.

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