Background: Our aim was to determine the influence of breastfeeding and postnatal nutrition on cardiovascular remodeling induced by fetal growth restriction (FGR).
Methods: A cohort study including 81 children with birthweight <10th centile (FGR) and 121 with adequate fetal growth for gestational age (AGA) was conducted. Cardiovascular endpoints were left ventricular sphericity index (LVSI), carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT), and blood pressure (BP) at 4-5 y of age. The combined effect of FGR and postnatal variables-including breastfeeding, fat dietary intake, and BMI-on cardiovascular endpoints was assessed by linear and robust regressions.
Results: FGR was the strongest predictor of cardiovascular remodeling in childhood, leading to lower LVSI and increased cIMT and BP as compared with AGA. Breastfeeding >6 mo (coefficient: 0.0982) and healthy-fat dietary intake (coefficient: -0.0128) showed an independent beneficial effect on LVSI and cIMT, respectively. Overweight/obesity induced an additional increment of 1 SD on cIMT in FGR children (interaction coefficient: 0.0307) when compared with its effect in AGA. BMI increased systolic BP (coefficient: 0.7830) while weight catch-up increased diastolic BP (coefficient: 4.8929).
Conclusions: Postnatal nutrition ameliorates cardiovascular remodeling induced by FGR. Breastfeeding and healthy-fat dietary intake improved while increased BMI worsened cardiovascular endpoints, which opens opportunities for targeted postnatal interventions from early life.