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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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, EMBASE and meta-analysed 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 (CI) were calculated using random effects methods.
RESULTS: We identified 30 relevant studies (n=23,626). Lower childhood IQ and lower childhood SES were associated with more white matter hyperintensities (WMH) (IQ; n=1512, 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=17,164, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date10 Feb 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Feb 2017


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