The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the association between birth weight, underweight, and blood pressure (BP) among Ellisras rural children aged between 5 and 15 years. Data were collected from 528 respondents who participated in the Ellisras Longitudinal Study (ELS) and had their birth weight recorded on their health clinic card. Standard procedure was used to measure the anthropometric measurements and BP. Linear regression was used to assess BP, underweight variables, and birth weight. Logistic regression was used to assess the association of hypertension risks, low birth weight, and underweight. The association between birth weight and BP was not statistically significant. There was a significant (p < 0.05) association between mean BP and the sum of four skinfolds (β = 0.26, 95% CI 0.15-0.23) even after adjusting for age (β = 0.18, 95% CI 0.01-0.22). Hypertension was significantly associated with weight for age z-scores (OR = 5.13, 95% CI 1.89-13.92) even after adjusting for age and sex (OR = 5.26, 95% CI 1.93-14.34). BP was significantly associated with the sum of four skinfolds, but not birth weight. Hypertension was significantly associated with underweight. Longitudinal studies should confirm whether the changes in body weight we found can influence the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Keywords: birth weight; blood pressure; mid upper arm circumference; rural South African children; underweight.