Context: Early postnatal life has been suggested as an important window during which risks for long-term health may be influenced.
Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the independent associations between weight gain during infancy (0-6 months) and early childhood (3-6 yr) with components of the metabolic syndrome in young adults.
Design: This was a prospective cohort study (The Stockholm Weight Development Study).
Setting: The study was conducted in a general community.
Participants: Subjects included 128 (54 males) singletons, followed from birth to 17 yr.
Main outcome measure: None of these young adults met the full criteria for the metabolic syndrome. We therefore calculated a continuous clustered metabolic risk score by averaging the standardized values of the following components: waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, glucose, and insulin level.
Results: Clustered metabolic risk at age 17 yr was predicted by weight gain during infancy (standardized beta = 0.16; P < 0.0001) but not during early childhood (standardized beta = 0.10; P = 0.23), adjusted for birth weight, gestational age, current height, maternal fat mass, and socioeconomic status at age 17 yr. Further adjustment for current fat mass and weight gain during childhood did not alter the significant association between infancy weight gain with the metabolic risk score (standardized beta = 0.20; P = 0.007).
Conclusions: Rapid weight gain during infancy (0-6 months) but not during early childhood (3-6 yr) predicted clustered metabolic risk at age 17 yr. Early interventions to moderate rapid weight gain even at very young ages may help to reduce adult cardiovascular disease risks.