The role of early growth in later health is controversial. We examined the associations of growth at different phases from birth to puberty with blood pressure and lipid profile at ~17.5 years. In the population-representative "Children of 1997" birth cohort, growth was measured as (i) weight-for-age z score (WAZ) at birth and WAZ gains from 0 to 2 and 2 to 8 years and (ii) body-mass-index-for-age z score (BAZ) and length/height-for-age z score (LAZ) at 3 months and BAZ and LAZ gains from 3 months to 3 years, 3 to 8 years and 8 to 14 years, based on the World Health Organization growth standards/references. Adjusted partial least squares regression was used to assess simultaneously the associations of growth with height-, age- and sex-specific systolic (SBPZ) and diastolic blood pressure z scores (DBPZ), low- (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and triglycerides (TG) at ~17.5 years. Among 3410 children, higher WAZ, BAZ and LAZ gains from initial size to 8 years were associated with higher SBPZ. Higher gains in WAZ and BAZ from 2 to 8 years were consistently associated with higher DBPZ, LDL and TG and lower HDL. Lower LAZ at 3 months and higher LAZ gain from 3 months to 3 years were associated with lower HDL and higher TG. Greater growth in weight, body mass index and length/height had negative associations with blood pressure and lipid profile at ~17.5 years, but the differences by growth measure, phase and outcome suggest a complex underlying process.
Keywords: Weight; blood pressure; body mass index; length/height; lipids.