Early weight gain linked to obesity and cardiovascular health

Image: PD

1. Weight gain between 0 and 18 months of age is independently associated with childhood excess weight and poor cardiovascular health markers. 

2. Breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of life was associated with lesser weight gain. 

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good) 

Study Rundown: Researchers investigated the potential effect of weight gain in the 18 months after birth on weight later in childhood and markers of cardiovascular health. Greater weight gain, height-adjusted weight gain, and change in weight for height BMI z score were significantly related to adiposity and markers of cardiovascular health including systolic blood pressure, high sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP), and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) at 8 years of age.  All findings were independent of gestational age, birth length, birth weight, breastfeeding, and paternal adiposity. These results suggest an independent effect of early weight gain on arterial wall thickening later in childhood. Breastfeeding was a modifiable factor associated with less weight gain. Study findings may be limited as the carotid IMT and hsCRP measurements are not well-established markers of cardiovascular health in children; however, the results indicate that childhood obesity may be predictive of atherosclerosis in adulthood.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Cardiovascular risk factors in childhood and carotid artery intima-media thickness in adulthood

In-Depth [longitudinal cohort study]: Researchers included 395 non-diabetic children originally recruited for the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study. It was previously determined that the asthma treatments used in the initial study did not affect vascular risk factors or body size in the study participants. Children from multiple birth pregnancies and those born before 36 weeks gestation were excluded. It was found that weight at 8 years was 2.1 to 3.3 kg higher for every 1 kg of early weight gain from birth to 18 months. Excessive height-adjusted weight gain put individuals at a 1.6 times greater risk of becoming overweight , 2.07 times greater risk of becoming obese  and a 1.54 times greater risk of having central adiposity at 8 years of age (95% CIs). Systolic blood pressure increased by 1.24 mm Hg (p < .001), and carotid IMT increased by 0.012 mm (p = .002) with height-adjusted weight gain. Failure to breastfeed for the first 6 months of life was an independent predictor of early weight gain in the studied period.

By Brandon Childs and Leah H. Carr

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