Objective: Syndrome X (clustering of insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia and hypertension) in adults with central obesity has been suggested to be a consequence of poor foetal development. We investigated clustering of syndrome X factors in a sample of 8-y-old Australian children, and whether the clusters were associated with size at birth and childhood obesity.
Design: Longitudinal, 1997 follow-up of children enrolled as singleton-born neonates in 1989.
Subjects: A total of 298 healthy Australian children (208 boys, 90 girls, age range 7.4-8.9 y).
Measurements: Anthropometry at birth and at 4 weeks. In 1997, at 8 y of age: fasting insulin and glucose, total and HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
Results: Adverse levels of insulin and glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides co-existed more often than expected by chance (P<0.01). Three factors were identified in factor analysis: one loading on systolic and diastolic blood pressure ('blood pressure'); a second loading on insulin and glucose ('insulin resistance'); and a third loading negatively on HDL-cholesterol and positively on triglycerides ('dyslipidaemia'). The blood pressure factor was correlated with fatness at age 8 y (eg fat mass estimated from skin folds, r=0.11) and, after adjustment for current size, with birth weight (r=-0.15). Fat mass was also correlated with both 'insulin resistance' (r=0.24) and 'dyslipidaemia' (r=0.19). The increase in 'insulin resistance' (P=0.03) and 'dyslipidaemia' (P<0.01) per category of fat mass was greatest for subjects with higher-than-median subscapular-to-triceps ratio of skin folds. Neither 'insulin resistance' nor 'dyslipidaemia' was associated with anthropometry at birth.
Conclusions: The Syndrome X risk variables clustered among children who had a tendency to deposit fat on the trunk. There was no evidence in this sample that infant size predicts development of the insulin resistance or dyslipidaemic components of the syndrome by age 8.