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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e25533. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025533. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

Early-life determinants of total and HDL cholesterol concentrations in 8-year-old children; the PIAMA birth cohort study.

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Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Adult cholesterol concentrations might be influenced by early-life factors, such as breastfeeding and birth weight, referred to as "early programming". How such early factors exert their influence over the life course is still poorly understood. Evidence from studies in children and adolescents is scarce and conflicting. We investigated the influence of 6 different perinatal risk factors on childhood total and HDL cholesterol concentrations and total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio measured at 8 years of age, and additionally we studied the role of the child's current Body Mass Index (BMI).


Anthropometric measures and blood plasma samples were collected during a medical examination in 751 8-year-old children participating in the prospective Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy (PIAMA) birth cohort study. Linear and logistic regression were performed to estimate associations of total and HDL cholesterol concentrations with breastfeeding, birth weight, infant weight gain, maternal overweight before pregnancy, gestational diabetes and maternal smoking during pregnancy, taking into account the child's current BMI.


Linear regressions showed an association between total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio and maternal pre-pregnancy overweight (β = 0.15, Confidence Interval 95% (CI): 0.02, 0.28), rapid infant weight gain (β = 0.13, 95%CI: 0.01, 0.26), and maternal smoking during pregnancy (β = 0.14, 95%CI: 0.00, 0.29). These associations were partly mediated by the child's BMI.


Total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio in 8-year-old children was positively associated with maternal pre-pregnancy overweight, maternal smoking during pregnancy and rapid infant weight gain.

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