Background: Adult height is known to be inversely related to coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. We sought to investigate transgenerational influence of parental height on offspring's CHD risk.
Methods: Parents took part in a cardiorespiratory disease survey in two Scottish towns during the 1970s, in which their physical stature was measured. In 1996, their offspring were invited to participate in a similar survey, which included an electrocardiogram recording and risk factor assessment.
Results: A total of 2306 natural offspring aged 30-59 years from 1456 couples were subsequently flagged for notification of mortality and followed for CHD-related hospitalizations. Taller paternal and/or maternal height was associated with socio-economic advantage, heavier birthweight and increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in offspring. Increased height in fathers, but more strongly in mothers (risk ratio for 1 SD change in maternal height = 0.85; 95% confidence interval: 0.76 to 0.95), was associated with a lower risk of offspring CHD, adjusting for age, sex, other parental height and CHD risk factors.
Conclusion: There is evidence of an association between taller parental, particularly maternal, height and lower offspring CHD risk. This may reflect an influence of early maternal growth on the intrauterine environment provided for her offspring.