Longitudinal growth during fetal life and infancy and cardiovascular outcomes at school-age

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Objective:Low birth weight is associated with cardiovascular disease. We examined the effects of fetal and infant growth patterns on cardiovascular outcomes in children.Methods:In a population-based prospective cohort study among 6239 children, we estimated fetal-femur length and weight by 20 and 30 weeks ultrasound, and child length and weight at birth, 0.5, 1, 2 and 6 years. We measured blood pressure (BP), carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity, aortic root diameter, left ventricular mass and fractional shortening at 6 years. We used regression analyses to identify longitudinal growth patterns associated with height-standardized vascular outcomes and body-surface-area-standardized cardiac outcomes.Results:Younger gestational age and lower birth weight were associated with higher BP, smaller aortic root diameter and lower left ventricular mass in childhood (all P values <0.05). Children with decelerated or normal fetal growth followed by accelerated infant growth had higher BP, whereas those with decelerated growth during both fetal life and infancy had a relatively larger left ventricular mass. Longitudinal growth analyses showed that children with increased BP tended to be smaller during third trimester of fetal life, but of normal size during infancy, than children with normal BP. Children with increased aortic root diameter or left ventricular mass tended to be larger during fetal life, but of similar size during infancy.Conclusion:Specific fetal and infant growth patterns are associated with different cardiovascular outcomes in children. Further studies are needed to identify the underlying mechanisms and the long-term cardiovascular consequences.

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