Birth weight and cardiovascular risk factors in an epidemiological study

Diabetologia. 1996 Dec;39(12):1598-602. doi: 10.1007/s001250050620.


Low birth weight has been proposed as a risk factor for development of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in the adult. To ascertain the extent to which birth weight was associated with cardiovascular risk factors, we examined 620 subjects (median age 48 years) in a cross-sectional study. Of these 317 were offspring of diabetic patients and 303 were offspring of non-diabetic control subjects. Known risk factors for development of cardiovascular disease were correlated to birth weight and examined as dependent variables by multiple linear regression. Age, body mass index (BMI), subjects gender along with parental gender, diabetes status of the parents, and birth weight were independent variables. The variance of the risk factors as dependent variables explained by age, gender, and BMI as independent variables was examined and birth weight was added as an independent variable. We found birth weight was inconsistently correlated to the different risk factors in the different groups of subjects. When adjusted for age, BMI, subject's gender, parental gender, and the diabetes status of the parents, birth weight was negatively correlated to fasting blood glucose. In offspring of diabetic patients the explained variance of risk factors did not change as we added birth weight to the model. In offspring of non-diabetic subjects we found that the explained variance of diastolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, and cholesterol increased 1-3% as birth weight was added to the model. We conclude that birth weight may not be a major risk factor for development of hypertension and cardiovascular disease in our population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuminuria / metabolism
  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nuclear Family*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Cholesterol