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BACKGROUND: Small size at birth and greater BMI in childhood are associated with greater brachial blood pressure (BP) in later life. Aortic (central) BP differs from brachial BP and is more predictive of organ damage and cardiovascular events; the relationship between BMI in childhood and central BP is not known.
METHODS: Using data from 3154 people from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we assessed associations between repeated measures of BMI from birth to age 10 with central and brachial BP at age 17.
RESULTS: Lower BMI at birth (thinness) was associated with greater central and brachial BP. No associations were seen between BMI in early childhood (<7 years) and later BP, but greater BMI from 7 to 10 years was associated with higher BP. Associations were similar for central and brachial SBP and for DBP, and were stronger in males compared with females. The highest BP was seen in participants who were low-birth-weight and overweight or obese at both the end of infancy (age 2) and at the time of BP assessment (age 17); mean central SBP was 104.2 mmHg (SD = 11.0) compared with 100.7 (SD = 10.5) in participants who were normal-birth-weight and overweight or obese at 2 and 17 years.
CONCLUSION: Small size at birth followed by rapid adiposity gain in infancy and continued overweight/obesity are associated with greater BP in young adulthood. These findings emphasize the importance of maintenance of normal weight in childhood for the prevention of high BP.