Height in Childhood and risk of CHD in adulthood

The association of physical development of child and the risk of coronary heart disease in adults has been a topic of scientific interest since long. The adult risk of coronary heart disease is assessed by CHD risk factor profiles. However, the pathway of development is complex. Low weight at birth and short stature which happens eventually, are associated with an increased risk of adult CHD. There are also evidences which show that catch-up growth in height and weight among those people who have low birth weight is also associated with an increased risk of developing CHD in adults.

The background of these associations is not well understood. However, it has been suggested that low birth weight and short stature in adulthood mark influence of environment in pre-natal and post-natal life which is supposed to further predispose to metabolic abnormalities. Childhood which is the period between infancy and adolescence has not received much attention. Childhood is characterized by a slow growth rate and its association with CHD may be very different from those periods which show rapid growth rate like infancy and puberty. Also, childhood is a very unique period in an individual’s life from the point of view of public health because this period allows for school-based screening, monitoring and intervention.
CHD risk

It has been found that a short stature in children who are in the age group of 7 to 13 years was associated with a high risk of CHD in adulthood. Also, these associations were not modified by the birth weight. The height z-score were able to predict the later risk of CHD with approximately same effect as the BMI z-scores did. But the direction of these effects and changes shown in the strength of association across the age groups were different. The link between short adult stature and increased risk of CHD risk has been known since 1980s. This has also been replicated in a number of studies since then.

The Hertfordshire study reported for the first time that low weight at time of birth in men and women and low weight at the age of one year in males were associated with a higher risk of CHD. A very interesting observation was that rapid growth rate between the age of 11 and 13 years in boys and between 9 to 11 years in girls showed the strongest association with increased risk of CHD. These ages also are very close to the time of onset of puberty in the Danish population.

Height in Childhood and risk of CHD in adulthood
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