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Birth weight and cardiac function assessed by echocardiography in adolescence: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number2
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Sep 2018
DatePublished (current) - 5 Aug 2019


Objective: Maternal hemodynamics in pregnancy is associated with fetal growth and birth weight, which in turn is associated with offspring cardiovascular disease later in life. We therefore sought to quantify the extent to which birth weight is associated with cardiac structure and function in adolescence.

Methods: Participants (N=1,964, 55% females) from a UK birth cohort were examined with echocardiography at mean age 17.7 years (SD 0.3). Birth weight z-scores for sex and gestational age were used. Linear regression models were adjusted for several potential confounders, including maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), maternal age, maternal level of education, and smoking during pregnancy.

Results: Higher birth weight was associated with lower E/A (mean difference -0.024, 95% confidence interval (CI); -0.043 to -0.005) and E/e’ (-0.05; 95% CI -0.10; -0.0006) and also associated with higher left ventricular mass index (LVMI) (0.38 g/m2.7; 95% CI 0.09; 0.67). There was no or inconsistent evidence of associations with relative wall thickness, left atrial diameter, and measurements of systolic function. Further analyses suggested that the association between birth weight and LVMI was mainly driven by an association observed in participants born small for gestational age and it was also abolished when risk factors in adolescence were accounted for.

Conclusions: Higher birth weight adjusted for sex and gestational age was associated with differences in measures of diastolic function in adolescence but the observed associations were small. It remains to be determined the extent to which these associations translate into increased susceptibility to cardiovascular disease later in life.

    Research areas

  • ALSPAC, Echocardiography, Fetal growth restriction, Cardiac development, Epidemiology

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