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Early life diarrhoea and later blood pressure in a developing country: the 1982 Pelotas (Brazil) birth cohort study
  1. G David Batty1,
  2. Bernardo L Horta2,
  3. George Davey Smith3,
  4. Fernando Barros4,
  5. Cesar G Victora5
  1. 1 MRC SPHSU, United Kingdom;
  2. 2 Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil;
  3. 3 University of Bristol, United Kingdom;
  4. 4 PAHO/WHO Latin American Centre for Perinatology, United Kingdom;
  5. 5 Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, RS 96001, Brazil
  1. E-mail: david-b{at}


Objectives: It has recently been hypothesised that acute dehydration in early childhood may ‘programme’ increased blood pressure via salt retention. We examined if there was an association between episodes of diarrhoea (a proxy for acute dehydration) and later measured blood pressure.

Design, setting and participants: In the 1982 Pelotas birth cohort study (Brazil), parents/carers reported hospital admissions for diarrhoea in the first 12 and 20 months of study members’ lives. Blood pressure was subsequently measured directly in adolescence (ages 15, 18, 19 years) and early adulthood (23 years).

Main results: The period prevalence of diarrhoea admissions in the first 12 months of life varied between 2.8 and 6.5% depending on the analytical sample in question. We found no evidence of an association with blood pressure measured at any point in adolescence or early adulthood. These findings were unchanged after adjustment for a range of covariates. Equally null results were apparent when diarrhoea admissions in the first 20 months of life, access to home sanitation, and use of piped water were the exposures of interest.

Conclusions: Early life proxies for dehydration and diarrhoea were unrelated to later blood pressure in this, the most comprehensive examination to date of the potential association.

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