Background: The effect of childhood risk factors for cardiovascular disease on adult mortality is poorly understood.
Methods: In a cohort of 4857 American Indian children without diabetes (mean age, 11.3 years; 12,659 examinations) who were born between 1945 and 1984, we assessed whether body-mass index (BMI), glucose tolerance, and blood pressure and cholesterol levels predicted premature death. Risk factors were standardized according to sex and age. Proportional-hazards models were used to assess whether each risk factor was associated with time to death occurring before 55 years of age. Models were adjusted for baseline age, sex, birth cohort, and Pima or Tohono O'odham Indian heritage.
Results: There were 166 deaths from endogenous causes (3.4% of the cohort) during a median follow-up period of 23.9 years. Rates of death from endogenous causes among children in the highest quartile of BMI were more than double those among children in the lowest BMI quartile (incidence-rate ratio, 2.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.46 to 3.62). Rates of death from endogenous causes among children in the highest quartile of glucose intolerance were 73% higher than those among children in the lowest quartile (incidence-rate ratio, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.09 to 2.74). No significant associations were seen between rates of death from endogenous or external causes and childhood cholesterol levels or systolic or diastolic blood-pressure levels on a continuous scale, although childhood hypertension was significantly associated with premature death from endogenous causes (incidence-rate ratio, 1.57; 95% CI, 1.10 to 2.24).
Conclusions: Obesity, glucose intolerance, and hypertension in childhood were strongly associated with increased rates of premature death from endogenous causes in this population. In contrast, childhood hypercholesterolemia was not a major predictor of premature death from endogenous causes.
2010 Massachusetts Medical Society