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Int J Epidemiol. 2016 Aug;45(4):1091-1102. Epub 2016 Jul 13.

Birthweight, childhood growth and left ventricular structure at age 60-64 years in a British birth cohort study.

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MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, London, UK,
MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, London, UK.
Barts Heart Centre, London, UK.
International Centre for Circulatory Health, Imperial College London, UK and.
Institute of Cardiovascular Science, University College London, UK.



High left ventricular mass (LVM) is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease and mortality, but information relating LVM in older age to growth in early life is limited. We assessed the relationship of birthweight, height and body mass index (BMI) and overweight across childhood and adolescence with later life left ventricular (LV) structure.


We used data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) on men and women born in 1946 in Britain and followed up ever since. We use regression models to relate prospective measures of birthweight and height and BMI from ages 2-20 years to LV structure at 60-64 years.


Positive associations of birthweight with LVM and LV end diastolic volume (LVEDV) at 60-64 years were largely explained by adult height. Higher BMI, greater changes in BMI and greater accumulation of overweight across childhood and adolescence were associated with higher LVM and LVEDV and odds of concentric hypertrophy. Those who were overweight at two ages in early life had a mean LVM 11.5 g (95% confidence interval: -2.19,24.87) greater, and a mean LVEDV 10.0 ml (3.7,16.2) greater, than those who were not overweight. Associations were at least partially mediated through adult body mass index. Body size was less consistently associated with relative wall thickness (RWT), with the strongest association being observed with pubertal BMI change [0.007 (0.001,0.013) per standard deviation change in BMI 7-15 years]. The relationships between taller childhood height and LVM and LVEDV were explained by adult height.


Given the increasing levels of overweight in contemporary cohorts of children, these findings further emphasize the need for effective interventions to prevent childhood overweight.


Birthweight; birth cohort; growth; left ventricular structure; life course; overweight

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