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PLoS One. 2016 Nov 18;11(11):e0166447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166447. eCollection 2016.

The Impact of Early Life Stress on Growth and Cardiovascular Risk: A Possible Example for Autonomic Imprinting?

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, Caritas Krankenhaus, Bad Mergentheim, Germany.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Early life stress is imprinting regulatory properties with life-long consequences. We investigated heart rate variability in a group of small children with height below the third percentile, who experienced an episode of early life stress due to heart failure or intra uterine growth retardation. These children appear to develop autonomic dysfunction in later life.

RESULTS:

Compared to the healthy control group heart rate variability (HRV) is reduced on average in a group of 101 children with short stature. Low HRV correlates to groups of children born small for gestational age (SGA), children with cardiac growth failure and children with congenital syndromes, but not to those with constitutional growth delay (CGD), who had normal HRV. Reduced HRV indicated by lower RMSSD and High Frequency (HF)-Power is indicating reduced vagal activity as a sign of autonomic imbalance.

CONCLUSION:

It is not short stature itself, but rather the underlying diseases that are the cause for reduced HRV in children with height below the third percentile. These high risk children-allocated in the groups with an adverse autonomic imprinting in utero or infancy (SGA, congenital heart disease and congenital syndromes)-have the highest risk for 'stress diseases' such as cardiovascular disease in later life. The incidence of attention deficit disorder is remarkably high in our group of short children.

PMID:
27861527
PMCID:
PMC5115741
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0166447
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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