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Birth weight, adult blood pressure, and blood pressure reactions to acute psychological stress
  1. Douglas Carroll1,
  2. George Davey Smith2,
  3. Anna C Phillips1,
  4. Christopher Ring1,
  5. Patrick West3
  1. 1School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England
  2. 2Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, England
  3. 3MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor D Carroll
 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, England; carrolld{at}

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The fetal origins of disease hypothesis contends that an unfavourable intrauterine environment, as evidenced by low birth weight, increases vulnerability to chronic illness in adulthood.1 There is now reasonably consistent evidence of a negative association between birth weight and adult blood pressure.2 However, the mechanisms underlying this relation remain unclear. It has been suggested that individual differences in susceptibility to stress may play a part.3 One way of assessing this susceptibility is by measuring blood pressure reactions to an acute psychological stress task. There is evidence that large magnitude blood pressure reactions to such exposures predict increased resting blood pressure at subsequent follow up.4 Our analyses revisited the issue of birth weight and adult blood pressure and examined …

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  • Funding: the authors acknowledge the Medical Research Council of Great Britain for financial support to Patrick West.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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