Weight Gain in Infancy and Vascular Risk Factors in Later Childhood

  • David S. Celermajer, PhDb
    1. aBoden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise, and Eating Disorders,
    2. bSydney Medical School;
    3. dSydney School of Public Health;
    4. eThe Children's Hospital at Westmead Clinical School; and
    5. gMenzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia;
    6. cWoolcock Institute of Medical Research, Glebe, Australia;
    7. fInstitute of Endocrinology and Diabetes, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, Australia; and
    8. hAtkins Center for Weight and Health, Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology and School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California


    OBJECTIVE: We hypothesized that early weight gain would be associated with incident obesity, higher blood pressure, systemic inflammation, and arterial wall thickening in later childhood.
    METHODS: A longitudinal birth cohort was recruited antenatally from 2 maternity hospitals in Sydney, Australia, between September 1997 and December 1999. Three hundred ninety-five nondiabetic children who were followed to age 8 years had complete data for early weight gain and arterial wall thickness.
    RESULTS: Independent predictors of excess early weight gain (age 0–18 months; adjusted for height gain) included male gender (0.411 kg [SE: 0.103],P < .001), fewer weeks’ gestation (−0.121 kg [SE: 0.044] per week, P = .006), birth length (0.156 kg [SE: 0.024] per cm, P < .001), and failure to breastfeed to 6 months of age (0.498 kg [SE: 0.108], P < .001). Early height-adjusted weight gain was significantly associated with later childhood overweight (odds ratio [OR]: 1.67 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.26 to 2.20] per kg) and obesity (OR: 2.07 [95% CI: 1.53 to 2.79] per kg), excess central adiposity (OR: 1.54 [95% CI: 1.20 to 1.98] per kg), higher systolic blood pressure (1.24 mm Hg [SE: 0.33] per kg, P < .001), higher C-reactive protein (0.17 mg/dL [SE: 0.06] per 100% increase in weight gain, P = .006), and greater carotid intima-media thickness (0.012 mm [SE: 0.004] per kg, P = .002).
    CONCLUSIONS: Early postnatal weight gain from birth to age 18 months is significantly associated with later childhood overweight and obesity, excess central adiposity, and greater arterial wall thickness.