Do mismatches between pre- and post-natal environments influence adult physiological functioning?

Tony Robertson, Michaela Benzeval

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE: Mismatches between pre- and post-natal environments have implications for disease in adulthood. However, less is known about how this mismatch can affect physiological systems more generally, especially at younger ages. We hypothesised that mismatches between pre- and post-natal environments, as measured by the measures of birthweight and adult leg length, would be associated with poorer biomarker levels across five key physiological systems in young adults.

METHODS: Data were collected from 923, 36 year-old respondents from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study. The biomarkers were: systolic blood pressure (sBP); forced expiratory volume (FEV1); glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c); glomerular filtration rate (eGFR); and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). These biomarkers were regressed against pre-natal conditions (birthweight), post-natal conditions (leg length) and the interaction between pre- and post-natal measures. Sex, childhood socioeconomic position and adult lifestyle characteristics were adjusted for as potential effect modifiers and confounders, respectively.

RESULTS: There were no associations between birthweight and leg length and sBP, FEV1, HbA1c, or GGT. Higher birthweight and longer leg length were associated with better kidney function (eGFR). However, there was no evidence for mismatches between birthweight and leg length to be associated with worse sBP, FEV1, HbA1c, eGFR or GGT levels (P>0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Our hypothesis that early signs of physiological damage would be present in young adults given mismatches in childhood environments, as measured by growth markers, was not proven. This lack of association could be because age 36 is too young to identify significant trends for future health, or the associations simply not being present.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86953
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2014

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