Objective -To determine whether the link suggested between growth in utero and during infancy and death from cardiovascular disease in men is also present in women.
Design -Follow up study of women and men whose birth weight and weight at 1 year of age had been recorded.
Setting -Hertfordshire, England.
Subjects -5,585 women and 10,141 men born during 1911-30.
Main outcome measures -Standardised mortality ratios for cardiovascular disease.
Results -Among women and men death rates from cardiovascular disease fell progressively between the low and high birth weights groups (Chi2 = 4.3, p=0.04 for women, Chi2 = 8.5, p<0.005 for men). Cardiovascular deaths in men but not women were also strongly related to weight at 1 year, falling progressively between the low and high weight groups (Chi2 = 27.5, p<0.0001). The highest cardiovascular death rates in women were among those with below average birth weight but above average weight at 1 year. In men the highest rates were among those with below average birth weight and below average weight at 1 year.
Conclusion -Relations between cardiovascular disease and birth weight are similar in men and women. In men cardiovascular disease is also related to weight gain in infancy.