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Sex specific difference in the relation between birth weight and arterial compliance in young adults: The Young Hearts Project
  1. L J Murraya,
  2. A M Gallagherb,
  3. C A G Borehamc,
  4. M Savaged,
  5. G Davey Smithe
  1. aDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, The Queens's University of Belfast, Riddell Hall, Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5EE, bSchool of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, cDepartment of Sports Studies, University of Ulster, dDepartment of Child Health, The Queens's University of Belfast, eDepartment of Social Medicine, University of Bristol
  1. Dr Murray (l.murray{at}

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Low birth weight and small size at birth have been related to raised blood pressure in both childhood and adult life1and a previous report has demonstrated lower arterial compliance in middle aged adults who were small at birth.2 It has been hypothesised that, in the growth retarded fetus, reduced arterial compliance results from impaired elastin synthesis in the walls of large arteries.3 Elastin synthesis in blood vessels seems to be primarily limited to the fetal and perinatal periods3 with no appreciable synthesis during adulthood. Investigation of the relation between birth weight and arterial compliance in young people, as in this study, presents an opportunity to test this hypothesis and has the advantage that the relation should not obscured by existing atherosclerosis, which is related to both birth weight and arterial compliance.


Subjects were recruited from 1015 randomly selected children who participated in a survey of cardiovascular risk factors performed in Northern Ireland in 1989 (the Young Hearts cohort). All subjects were invited to attend further screening between 1997 and 1999, when aged 21 to 25 years (the Young Hearts 3 survey). Altogether 489 (48.2%) of the original subjects attended (251 men, 238 women). …

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  • Funding: the cardiovascular component of the Young Hearts 3 Survey was supported by the British Heart Foundation

  • Conflicts of interest: none.