Birth Weight, Postnatal Weight Gain, and Childhood Adiposity in Relation to Lipid Profile and Blood Pressure During Early Adolescence

J Am Heart Assoc. 2017 Aug 4;6(8):e006302. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.117.006302.


Background: Different pathways likely underlie the association between early weight gain and cardiovascular disease risk. We examined whether birth weight for length relationship and weight gain up to 2 years of age are associated with lipid profiles and blood pressure (BP) in early adolescence and determined whether childhood adiposity mediates these associations.

Methods and results: Data from QUALITY (Quebec Adipose and Lifestyle Investigation in Youth), a cohort of white children with parental history of obesity, were analyzed (n=395). Sex-specific weight for length z scores from birth to 2 years were computed. Rate of postnatal weight gain was estimated using individual slopes of weight for length z-score measurements. Percentage of body fat was measured at 8 to 10 years. Fasting lipids and BP were measured at 10 to 12 years. Using path analysis, we found indirect effects of postnatal weight gain, through childhood adiposity, on all outcomes: Rate of postnatal weight for length gain was positively associated with childhood adiposity, which in turn was associated with unfavorable lipid and BP levels in early adolescence. In contrast, small beneficial direct effects on diastolic BP z scores, independent of weight at other time points, were found for birth weight for length (β=-0.05, 95% CI, -0.09 to -0.002) and for postnatal weight gain (β=-0.02, 95% CI, -0.03 to -0.002).

Conclusions: Among children with at least 1 obese parent, faster postnatal weight gain leads to cardiovascular risk factors in early adolescence through its effect on childhood adiposity. Although heavier newborns may have lower BP in early adolescence, this protective direct effect could be offset by a deleterious indirect effect linking birth weight to later adiposity.

Keywords: birth weight; blood pressure; lipid profile; obesity; postnatal weight gain.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Birth Weight*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / blood*
  • Pediatric Obesity / ethnology
  • Pediatric Obesity / genetics
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Pedigree
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain*


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipids