Objective: Structural and functional brain reserves, thought to develop in childhood and adolescence, may be critical in determining the age at onset of cognitive impairment. Body height is affected by childhood conditions that promote growth. The authors examine the relationship of height in midlife and subsequent dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD), and vascular dementia.
Methods: Dementia was evaluated from 1999 to 2001 in 1,892 men age 76 to 95. Height had been measured when these men participated in the Israeli Ischemic Heart Disease project in 1963. Age, socioeconomic status (SES), and area of birth were also assessed in 1963.
Results: Older men and those with lower SES tended to be shorter. Relative to the shortest quartile, controlling for age, SES, and area of birth, the other quartiles had lesser respective odds ratios for dementia as a whole, AD, and vascular dementia.
Conclusion: Height was inversely associated with dementia, AD, and vascular dementia in a male sample. Since height is associated with childhood nutrition and may be associated with other risk factors for dementia, efforts to improve early life conditions that maximize body growth may diminish or delay the onset of dementia in later life.