Background: Complex interactions among genetic, epigenetic, and environmental exposures, further modified by a child's postnatal environment, underlie the relationship among maternal health, fetal growth, and the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in the child and disease in the adult. Few available studies consider the genetic and environmental influences of the family, beyond maternal health. The purpose of this study is to examine the fetal and early childhood family-based determinants for the development of adiposity, CVD risk factors, and atherosclerosis in childhood.
Method: A cohort of 850 children and their families (mother, father, eldest sibling) are being recruited during pregnancy to a prospective longitudinal study to investigate the relative contribution of (a) prenatal and postnatal determinants and (b) individual and family (maternal/paternal) determinants for the development of adiposity and CVD risk factors at 3, 5, and 10 years of age and carotid intima media thickness at 10 years.
Implications: The FAMILY study will advance understanding of the fetal and early childhood determinants for CVD development and will contribute to the design of primary prevention programs based on identification of the most important modifiable determinants for early childhood adiposity and CVD risk factor development.