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The effects of birth weight and postnatal linear growth retardation on blood pressure at age 11–12 years


STUDY OBJECTIVE To determine the effects of birth weight and linear growth retardation (stunting) in early childhood on blood pressure at age 11–12 years.

DESIGN Prospective cohort study.

SETTING Kingston, Jamaica.

PARTICIPANTS 112 stunted children (height for age < −2 SD of the NCHS references) and 189 non-stunted children (height for age > −1 SD), identified at age 9–24 months by a survey of poor neighbourhoods in Kingston.

MAIN RESULTS Current weight was the strongest predictor of systolic blood pressure (β= 4.90 mm Hg/SD weight 95%CI 3.97, 5.83). Birth weight predicted systolic blood pressure (β = −1.28 mm Hg/SD change in birth weight, 95% CI −2.17, −0.38) after adjustment for current weight. There was a significant negative interaction between stunting in early childhood and current weight indicating a larger effect of increased current weight in children who experienced linear growth retardation in early childhood. There was no interaction between birth weight and current weight. The increase in blood pressure from age 7 to age 11–12 was greater in children with higher weight at age 11–12 and less in children with higher birth weight and weight at age 7.

CONCLUSIONS Birth weight predicted systolic blood pressure in Jamaican children aged 11–12. Postnatal growth retardation may potentiate the relation between current weight and blood pressure. Greater weight gain between ages 7 and 11 was associated with a greater increase in systolic blood pressure. The relation between growth and later blood pressure is complex and has prenatal and postnatal components.

  • blood pressure
  • linear growth retardation
  • birth weight
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  • Funding: the study was supported by the Wellcome Trust (Grant no. 049235/Z/96/Z).

  • Conflicts of interest: none.

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