Objective: To examine the relationship between birth weight and later low-grade inflammation in children and adolescents.
Study design: We selected 166 children (49.4% boys; aged, 9.5 +/- 0.3 years) and 126 adolescents (43.7% males; aged, 15.5 +/- 0.4 years) from the Swedish part of the European Youth Heart Study. Birth weight data were collected from parental recall. Low-grade inflammatory markers include C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and complement factors C3 and C4. Fatness was measured by the sum of 5 skinfold thicknesses. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured with a maximal ergometer bike test. The association between birth weight and low-grade inflammatory markers was examined with multiple regression analyses.
Results: Birth weight was negatively associated with fibrinogen (beta = -0.059; P = .036), C3 (beta = -0.019; P = .010), and C4 (beta = -0.024; P = .031), after controlling for sex, pubertal status, mother's body mass index and socioeconomic status, fatness and fitness. Birth weight was not associated to later C-reactive protein level (all P > .1).
Conclusions: Our results showed that smaller birth weight is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation in children and adolescents. Because of the implication of complement factors on atherosclerosis process, these results contribute to explain the increased cardiovascular risk associated with low birth weight.