Effects of early growth on blood pressure of infants of British European and South Asian origin at one year of age: the Manchester children's growth and vascular health study

J Hypertens. 2008 Mar;26(3):412-8. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e3282f3168e.


Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate early influences of postnatal growth on blood pressure (BP) in healthy, British-born South Asian and European origin infants. We tested the hypotheses that South Asian infants would be smaller in all body dimensions (length and weight) with higher relative truncal skinfold thickness at birth, and that increased (central) adiposity and accelerated growth up to 1 year would be associated with higher BP in both ethnic groups.

Patients and methods: Five hundred and sixty infants were followed prospectively from birth to 3 and/or 12 months with measures of anthropometry and resting BP, compared against a UK 1990 growth reference, and analysed using regression methods.

Results: Marked differences in birth size persisted, as expected, between European and South Asian babies, but with a sexual dichotomy: South Asian boys were smaller in all anthropometric parameters (P < 0.001), including skinfolds (P < 0.05), than European boys, but South Asian girls, although smaller in length and weight, had similar skinfolds to European girls and thus a slightly larger subscapular skinfold thickness relative to birth weight [1.3 versus 1.2, mean difference 0.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.0009-0.14, P = 0.047]. The dichotomy persisted postnatally; South Asian boys showed a striking early increase in weight and length compared with European boys, associated with significant accrual of subscapular fat (6.1 versus 5.3 mm, mean difference 0.8, 95% CI 0.3-1.3, P = 0.003). In gender and ethnicity adjusted regression models, infants with the largest weight standard deviation score (SDS) increases in the first 3 months had the highest 12-month systolic BP (beta = 2.4, 95% CI 0.5-4.2, P = 0.01), while those with the greatest birth length (beta = 0.7, 95% CI 0.05-1.4, P = 0.04) but the smallest changes in length over 3-12 months (beta = -0.57, 95% CI -0.95 to -0.19, P = 0.004) had the highest diastolic BP.

Conclusions: Ethnic and gender differences in growth and adiposity present in early infancy include truncal fat preservation in South Asian girls from birth, which in boys is related to rapid early weight gain. Weight gain during the first 3 months appears to drive the rise in systolic BP to 1 year, itself a likely driver of later BP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / ethnology*
  • Asian People
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Body Height / ethnology*
  • Body Weight / ethnology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Gain
  • White People