Early Childhood Growth and Risk of Adult Cerebrovascular Disease: The NFBC1966

Stroke. 2022 Jun;53(6):1954-1963. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.121.035640. Epub 2022 Mar 18.


Background: Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of adulthood cerebrovascular disease (CVD). Not much is known about effects of early childhood growth. We studied whether the risk of adult CVD is associated with growth or nutritional factors during early childhood.

Methods: Within the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966, 11 991 persons were followed from birth to 52 years of age. CVD diagnoses were extracted from national hospital and death registers with diagnostic coding based on the World Health Organization recommendations. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate associations of childhood growth variables, growth trajectories (by Latent Class Growth Modeling), and nutritional factors with adult CVD, for example, ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. The analyses were adjusted for childhood socioeconomic status and birth weight.

Results: A total of 453 (3.8%) CVDs were recorded during follow-up. Among females, groups with low early childhood weight and height had an increased risk for adulthood ischemic CVDs, with an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.97 (95% CI, 1.21-3.20) and 2.05 (CI, 1.11-3.81), respectively. In addition, females with body mass index over 1 SD at body mass index rebound had an increased risk for ischemic CVDs (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.90 [CI, 1.19-3.04]) compared with females with body mass index -1 to +1 SD. These associations were not found among males.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that timing of weight gain during childhood is of significance for development of CVD risk among females.

Keywords: adult; birth cohort; body mass index; cerebrovascular disease; child; ischemic stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors