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Public Health. 2012 Aug;126(8):682-9. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2012.04.012. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Does an early childhood intervention affect cardiometabolic risk in adulthood? Evidence from a longitudinal study of preschool attendance in South Australia.

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  • 1Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, City East Campus, GPO Box 2471, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia. katina.d’



There is an expectation that a positive social, cognitive and behavioural trajectory from early childhood developmental interventions will lead to improved population health and reduced health inequalities. However, there is limited direct evidence for this. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of participation in the South Australian Kindergarten Union preschool programme on adult cardiovascular biomedical risk factors. Kindergarten Union preschools delivered high-quality, comprehensive services to children aged 2-4 years and their families, including education, parenting and health services.


Retrospective population-based cohort study.


The effect of attendance at a Kindergarten Union preschool on a range of cardiometabolic risk factors was assessed using data from the North West Adelaide Health Study 1999-2007. The study sample was taken from participants in the 2007 survey (n = 1064, 44.8% attended preschool) who lived in South Australia as children and were born during the years 1937-1969.


Preschool attendance had a beneficial effect on hypertension in adulthood [prevalence ratio 0.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.69-0.97] and an indication of benefit on hypercholesterolaemia (prevalence ratio 0.86, 95% CI 0.71-1.05), but had no effect on dyslipidaemia, central obesity, high fasting blood glucose or metabolic syndrome.


This study found that preschool attendance was associated with reduced risk of hypertension in adulthood, but no effect was seen for the other cardiometabolic factors. These findings may reflect differing causal pathways and trajectories of these risk factors from childhood to adulthood, but confirmation from other studies is required.

Copyright © 2012 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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