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Do gastrointestinal tract infections in infancy increase blood pressure in childhood? Cohort study
  1. Richard M Martin1,*,
  2. Michael S. Kramer2,
  3. Mourad Dahhou2,
  4. Robert W Platt2,
  5. Rita Patel1,
  6. Natalia Bogdanovich3,
  7. Lydia Matush3,
  8. George Davey Smith4
  1. 1 University of Bristol, United Kingdom;
  2. 2 McGill University, Canada;
  3. 3 National Research and Applied Medicine Mother and Child Centre, Minsk, Belarus;
  4. 4 University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2PR, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to: Richard M Martin, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Whiteladies Road, United Kingdom; richard.martin{at}bristol.ac.uk

Abstract

Background: It has been hypothesized that dehydration in infancy could permanently increase sodium retention, raising blood pressure in later life. We investigated whether gastrointestinal tract infection in infancy, a clinically relevant exposure often accompanied by dehydration, is associated with raised blood pressure in childhood.

Methods: We analysed data from a cohort study nested within a cluster-randomized trial of breastfeeding promotion in the Republic of Belarus. 17,046 healthy breastfed infants were enrolled from 31 maternity hospitals. 13,889 (81.5%) children were followed-up at 6.5 years. Exposure measures were: any gastrointestinal infection in infancy (to 1 year); hospitalizations for gastrointestinal infection in infancy and in childhood (1-6.5 years). The outcomes were systolic and diastolic blood pressure at age 6.5 years.

Results: The prevalence of any gastrointestinal infection in infancy, and of hospitalization for gastrointestinal infection in infancy or childhood, was 11.4%, 3.2% and 6.0%, respectively. No associations were observed between systolic blood pressure and any gastrointestinal infection (mean difference in those with minus those without infection = -0.04 mmHg; 95% CI: -0.52, 0.43) or hospitalization for gastrointestinal infection (difference = -0.22 mmHg; -1.07, 0.64) in infancy. Nor were associations observed between diastolic blood pressure and any gastrointestinal infection during infancy or hospitalization for gastrointestinal infection during infancy or childhood.

Conclusion: We found no evidence that hospitalization for gastrointestinal infection in infancy or childhood leads to raised blood pressure at age 6.5 years in a developed country setting.

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