Early life risk factors for cerebrovascular disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Objective:

Cerebrovascular disease (CVD) causes subclinical brain vascular lesions detected using neuroimaging and childhood factors may increase later CVD risk.

Methods:

We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and EMBASE, and meta-analyzed all available evidence on childhood (premorbid) IQ, socioeconomic status (SES), education, and subclinical CVD in later life. Overall odds ratios (OR), mean difference or correlation, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using random effects methods.

Results:

We identified 30 relevant studies (n = 22,890). Lower childhood IQ and lower childhood SES were associated with more white matter hyperintensities (WMH) (IQ: n = 1,512, r = −0.07, 95% CI −0.12 to −0.02, p = 0.007; SES: n = 243, deep WMH r = −0.18, periventricular WMH r = −0.146). Fewer years of education were associated with several CVD markers (n = 15,439, OR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.31, p = 0.003). No studies assessed early life factors combined.

Conclusions:

Childhood IQ, SES, and education are associated with increased risk of CVD on neuroimaging in later life. Further studies are required to provide further evidence and thereby inform policy.

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