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Association between low birth weight, excessive weight gain and heart problems in later life: study suggests inflammation may be the cause

10 April 2008

Researchers who have followed 5,840 people from before birth to the age of 31 have found evidence suggesting that small size at birth and excessive weight gain during adolescence and young adulthood may lead to low grade inflammation, which, in turn, is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Previous epidemiological studies have linked environmental factors in early life with the risk of disease in adulthood, and this study identifies a possible causal mechanism. The study, which is published in Europe’s leading cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal, underlines the important role of healthy lifestyles, from the foetal period, through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, in preventing heart problems.

From the paper Size at birth, weight gain over the life course, and low-grade inflammation in young adulthood: northern Finland 1966 birth cohort study
Ioanna Tzoulaki, Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, Anna-Liisa Hartikainen, Maija Leinonen, Anneli Pouta, Mika Paldanius, Aimo Ruokonen, Dexter Canoy, Ulla Sovio, Pekka Saikku and Paul Elliott

Published in European Heart Journal, Advanced Access, 10th April 2008

Read the press release online