Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Association of diarrhoea, poor hygiene and poor social conditions in childhood with blood pressure in adulthood
  1. L Kauhanen1,
  2. J W Lynch2,3,
  3. H-M Lakka1,4,
  4. J Kauhanen1,4,5,
  5. G D Smith3
  1. 1School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  3. 3Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  4. 4National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
  5. 5School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Laura Kauhanen, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, Department of Public Health, P.O.Box 1627, FI-70211, Kuopio, Finland; laura.kauhanen{at}


Background Previous research has suggested that dehydration in infancy may lead to high blood pressure in later life because of 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 Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, a population-based cohort study in eastern Finland. Information on childhood factors was collected from school health records (n=952), from the 1930s to the 1950s. Adult data were obtained from baseline examinations of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study cohort (n=2682) in 1984–1989.

Results Men who had poor hygiene in childhood had on average 4.07 mm Hg (95% CI 0.53 to 7.61) higher systolic blood pressure than 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 The authors' 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.

  • Diarrhoea
  • blood pressure
  • population studies
  • risk factors
  • housing and health
  • longitudinal studies
  • public health epidemiology

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study was supported by grants by 41471, 1041086 and 2041022 from the Academy of Finland, 167/722/96, 157/722/98 from the Ministry of Education of Finland, HL44199 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the USA and the City of Kuopio. Part of the cost of data collection of the historical records was funded by a grant from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, USA. Laura Kauhanen was supported by grants from the Juho Vainio Foundation and the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Research Ethics Committee of the University of Kuopio.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.