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1.  Childhood Body-Mass Index and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Adulthood 
The New England journal of medicine  2007;357(23):2329-2337.
The worldwide epidemic of childhood obesity is progressing at an alarming rate. Risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) are already identifiable in overweight children. The severity of the long-term effects of excess childhood weight on CHD, however, remains unknown.
We investigated the association between body-mass index (BMI) in childhood (7 through 13 years of age) and CHD in adulthood (25 years of age or older), with and without adjustment for birth weight. The subjects were a cohort of 276,835 Danish schoolchildren for whom measurements of height and weight were available. CHD events were ascertained by linkage to national registers. Cox regression analyses were performed.
In 5,063,622 person-years of follow-up, 10,235 men and 4318 women for whom childhood BMI data were available received a diagnosis of CHD or died of CHD as adults. The risk of any CHD event, a nonfatal event, and a fatal event among adults was positively associated with BMI at 7 to 13 years of age for boys and 10 to 13 years of age for girls. The associations were linear for each age, and the risk increased across the entire BMI distribution. Furthermore, the risk increased as the age of the child increased. Adjustment for birth weight strengthened the results.
Higher BMI during childhood is associated with an increased risk of CHD in adulthood. The associations are stronger in boys than in girls and increase with the age of the child in both sexes. Our findings suggest that as children are becoming heavier worldwide, greater numbers of them are at risk of having CHD in adulthood.
PMCID: PMC3062903  PMID: 18057335
2.  Childhood leg length and adult mortality: follow up of the Carnegie (Boyd Orr) Survey of Diet and Health in Pre-war Britain 
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relation between childhood height, its components--leg length and trunk length--and mortality in adulthood. DESIGN: Cohort study based on the Carnegie (Boyd Orr) Survey of diet and health in pre-war Britain, 1937-9. SETTING: The 14 centres in England and Scotland that participated in the Carnegie Survey and where children were examined. Scottish centres: Aberdeen, Dundee, West Wemyss, Coaltown of Wemyss, Hopeman, Methlick, Tarves, Barthol Chapel. English Centres: Liverpool, York-shire, Barrow in Furness, Wisbech, Fulham, and Bethnal Green. SUBJECTS: 2990 boys and girls aged between 2 years and 14 years 9 months when they were examined in 1937-9. These children were drawn from 1134 families who underwent a one week assessment of family diet and home circumstances. Of these, 2547 (85%) have been traced and flagged using the NHS Central Register. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Age adjusted overall, coronary heart disease, and cancer mortality in men and women in relation to age and sex specific z scores for height, leg length, and trunk length. All analyses were adjusted for the possible confounding effects of childhood and adult socioeconomic circumstances and childhood diet. RESULTS: Leg length was the component of childhood height most strongly associated with socioeconomic and dietary exposures. There was no significant relation between childhood height and overall mortality. Height-mortality relations were observed in relation to both coronary heart disease (CHD) and cancer. Leg length was the component of height most strongly related to cause specific mortality. In men and women CHD mortality increased with decreasing childhood leg length. Men in the lowest leg length quintile had a relative risk (RR) of 2.5 (95% CI 1.0 to 6.2) compared to those with the longest legs (linear trend p = 0.14). Similarly, women in the lowest leg length quintile had a RR of 3.9 (95% CI 0.8 to 19.0; linear trend p < 0.01). Adjustment for childhood and adult socioeconomic circumstances had little effect on these trends. In men, but not women, those who as children had long legs experienced increased cancer mortality. The significant relations between anthropometry and both CHD and cancer mortality were restricted to those aged < 8 years when measured. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that adverse diet and living conditions in childhood, for which leg length seems to be a particularly sensitive indicator, are associated with increased risk of CHD in adulthood and possibly reduced cancer risk. It is likely that these influences operate after birth, during the first few years of life.
PMCID: PMC1756683  PMID: 9616418
3.  Assessing the Causal Relationship of Maternal Height on Birth Size and Gestational Age at Birth: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(8):e1001865.
Observational epidemiological studies indicate that maternal height is associated with gestational age at birth and fetal growth measures (i.e., shorter mothers deliver infants at earlier gestational ages with lower birth weight and birth length). Different mechanisms have been postulated to explain these associations. This study aimed to investigate the casual relationships behind the strong association of maternal height with fetal growth measures (i.e., birth length and birth weight) and gestational age by a Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a Mendelian randomization analysis using phenotype and genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data of 3,485 mother/infant pairs from birth cohorts collected from three Nordic countries (Finland, Denmark, and Norway). We constructed a genetic score based on 697 SNPs known to be associated with adult height to index maternal height. To avoid confounding due to genetic sharing between mother and infant, we inferred parental transmission of the height-associated SNPs and utilized the haplotype genetic score derived from nontransmitted alleles as a valid genetic instrument for maternal height. In observational analysis, maternal height was significantly associated with birth length (p = 6.31 × 10−9), birth weight (p = 2.19 × 10−15), and gestational age (p = 1.51 × 10−7). Our parental-specific haplotype score association analysis revealed that birth length and birth weight were significantly associated with the maternal transmitted haplotype score as well as the paternal transmitted haplotype score. Their association with the maternal nontransmitted haplotype score was far less significant, indicating a major fetal genetic influence on these fetal growth measures. In contrast, gestational age was significantly associated with the nontransmitted haplotype score (p = 0.0424) and demonstrated a significant (p = 0.0234) causal effect of every 1 cm increase in maternal height resulting in ~0.4 more gestational d. Limitations of this study include potential influences in causal inference by biological pleiotropy, assortative mating, and the nonrandom sampling of study subjects.
Our results demonstrate that the observed association between maternal height and fetal growth measures (i.e., birth length and birth weight) is mainly defined by fetal genetics. In contrast, the association between maternal height and gestational age is more likely to be causal. In addition, our approach that utilizes the genetic score derived from the nontransmitted maternal haplotype as a genetic instrument is a novel extension to the Mendelian randomization methodology in casual inference between parental phenotype (or exposure) and outcomes in offspring.
Using a Mendelian randomization approach, Ge Zhang and colleagues examine the causal relationship between maternal height, birth size, and gestational age at birth.
Editors' Summary
Soon after the birth of a baby, doting parents send messages to friends and relatives or post information on social media sites to let everyone know when their new baby boy or girl was born. They may also post information about how heavy he/she was at birth and his/her length. These pregnancy outcomes, together with gestational age at birth (the length of time that a baby has spent developing in its mother’s womb), affect the baby’s immediate health and survival. Importantly, however, these pregnancy outcomes are also associated with the risk of long-term adverse health outcomes such as obesity, cardiometabolic disorders (heart disease and conditions such as diabetes that affect how the body makes energy from food), and neuropsychiatric conditions (mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system, such as depression). For example, some studies have shown an association between low birth weight and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life.
Why Was This Study Done?
Identification of the environmental and genetic factors that causally influence gestational age, length, and weight at birth would improve our understanding of why these pregnancy outcomes are associated with disease during adulthood and could help in the design of strategies to prevent these diseases. Epidemiological studies (investigations that examine disease patterns in populations) suggest that, compared to tall mothers, short mothers tend to deliver their babies at earlier gestational ages, with lower birth weights and lengths. Epidemiological studies cannot show, however, whether variations in maternal height cause variations in pregnancy outcomes. Other characteristics shared by tall mothers might actually determine the size and gestational age of their offspring (confounding). Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to assess the causal effect of maternal height on the size and gestational age at birth of babies. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding. So, if maternal height actually affects gestational age and size at birth, genetic variants (instruments) that affect maternal height should be associated with differences in gestational age and size at birth, provided confounding due to the transmission of parental alleles (variant forms of genes; people have two alleles of every gene, one inherited from each parent) is avoided by adjusting for the baby’s genotype.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used phenotype data (observable characteristics such as maternal height and birth weight of the baby) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; a type of genetic variant) data obtained from 3,486 Nordic mother/baby pairs. Analysis of the phenotype data indicated that maternal height was significantly associated with length, weight, and gestational age at birth (a significant association is unlikely to have arisen by chance). For their Mendelian randomization analysis, the researchers constructed a genetic score based on 697 SNPs known to be associated with adult height. To avoid confounding due to genetic sharing between the mother and baby, they determined which of the height-associated alleles each baby had inherited from its mother and used the nontransmitted haplotype score as a genetic instrument for maternal height (a haplotype is a set of DNA variations that are inherited together). Birth length and weight were significantly associated with both the maternal and paternal transmitted haplotype scores but not with the maternal nontransmitted haplotype score. However, gestational age was significantly but modestly associated with the maternal nontransmitted haplotype score.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The validity of the assumptions that underlie the Mendelian randomization approach and the design of the studies supplying the data for this analysis may affect the accuracy of the findings reported here. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the observed association between maternal height and fetal growth measurements is mainly determined by the genetics of the baby. That is, differences in maternal height do not cause differences in birth weight or length. Rather, some of the gene variants that the baby inherits from its mother determine both its size and its mother’s height. These findings also provide weak evidence that the association between maternal height and gestational age is causal. Maternal height might, for example, causally influence gestational age by limiting the space available for the baby’s growth before birth. Finally, these findings introduce an extension to the Mendelian randomization approach that can be used to investigate causal associations between parental characteristics and offspring outcomes.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at
The March of Dimes, a not-for-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information about low birth weight and its consequences
Nemours, a not-for-profit organization for child health, provides information about the weight of newborn babies (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has pages on birth weight, gestational age, and Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides information and links to additional resources about birth weight and a brief explanation of gestational age (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4540580  PMID: 26284790
4.  Effects on Coronary Heart Disease of Increasing Polyunsaturated Fat in Place of Saturated Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(3):e1000252.
Dariush Mozaffarian and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the effect of consuming polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats for lowering the risk of coronary heart disease.
Reduced saturated fat (SFA) consumption is recommended to reduce coronary heart disease (CHD), but there is an absence of strong supporting evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of clinical CHD events and few guidelines focus on any specific replacement nutrient. Additionally, some public health groups recommend lowering or limiting polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) consumption, a major potential replacement for SFA.
Methods and Findings
We systematically investigated and quantified the effects of increased PUFA consumption, as a replacement for SFA, on CHD endpoints in RCTs. RCTs were identified by systematic searches of multiple online databases through June 2009, grey literature sources, hand-searching related articles and citations, and direct contacts with experts to identify potentially unpublished trials. Studies were included if they randomized participants to increased PUFA for at least 1 year without major concomitant interventions, had an appropriate control group, and reported incidence of CHD (myocardial infarction and/or cardiac death). Inclusions/exclusions were adjudicated and data were extracted independently and in duplicate by two investigators and included population characteristics, control and intervention diets, follow-up duration, types of events, risk ratios, and SEs. Pooled effects were calculated using inverse-variance-weighted random effects meta-analysis. From 346 identified abstracts, eight trials met inclusion criteria, totaling 13,614 participants with 1,042 CHD events. Average weighted PUFA consumption was 14.9% energy (range 8.0%–20.7%) in intervention groups versus 5.0% energy (range 4.0%–6.4%) in controls. The overall pooled risk reduction was 19% (RR = 0.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.70–0.95, p = 0.008), corresponding to 10% reduced CHD risk (RR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.83–0.97) for each 5% energy of increased PUFA, without evidence for statistical heterogeneity (Q-statistic p = 0.13; I2 = 37%). Meta-regression identified study duration as an independent determinant of risk reduction (p = 0.017), with studies of longer duration showing greater benefits.
These findings provide evidence that consuming PUFA in place of SFA reduces CHD events in RCTs. This suggests that rather than trying to lower PUFA consumption, a shift toward greater population PUFA consumption in place of SFA would significantly reduce rates of CHD.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death among adults in developed countries. It is caused by disease of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. With age, inflammatory deposits (atherosclerotic plaques) coat the walls of these arteries and restrict the heart's blood supply, causing angina (chest pains that are usually relieved by rest), shortness of breath, and, if these plaques rupture or break, heart attacks (myocardial infarctions), which can reduce the heart's function or even be fatal. The key risk factors for CHD are smoking, physical inactivity, and poor diet. Blood cholesterol levels are altered by consuming dietary fats. There are three main types of dietary fats—“saturated” fatty acids (SFA) and unsaturated fatty acids; the latter can be “mono” unsaturated (MUFA) or “poly” unsaturated (PUFA). Eating SFA-rich foods (for example, meat, butter, and cheese) increases the amount of LDL-C in the blood but also increases HDL-C (the “good” cholesterol) and decreases triglycerides. Eating foods that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids (for example, vegetable oils and fatty fish) decreases the amount of LDL-C and triglycerides in the blood and also raises HDL-C.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because of the connection between eating SFA and high blood LDL-C levels, reduced SFA consumption is recommended as a way to avoid CHD. However, the evidence from individual randomized controlled trials that have studied CHD events (such as heart attacks and CHD-related deaths) have been mixed and could not support this recommendation. Furthermore, dietary recommendations to reduce SFA have generally not specified any replacement, i.e., whether SFA should be replaced with carbohydrate, protein, or unsaturated fats. Because of their beneficial effects on blood LDL-C and HDL-C levels, PUFA could be one important replacement for SFA, but, surprisingly, some experts argue that eating PUFA could actually increase CHD risk. Consequently, some guidelines recommend that PUFA consumption should be limited or even reduced. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a specific topic) and meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of several studies) of randomized controlled trials, the researchers assess the impact of increased PUFA consumption as replacement for SFA on CHD events.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers' search of the published literature, “grey” literature (doctoral dissertations, technical reports, and other documents not printed in books and journals), and contacts with relevant experts identified eight trials in which participants were randomized to increase their PUFA intake for at least a year and in which CHD events were reported. 1,042 CHD events were recorded among the 13,614 participants enrolled in these trials. In their meta-analysis, the researchers found that on average the consumption of PUFA accounted for 14.9% of total energy intake in the intervention groups compared with only 5% of total energy intake in the control groups. Participants in the intervention groups had a 19% reduced risk of CHD events compared to participants in the control groups. Put another way, each 5% increase in the proportion of energy obtained from PUFA reduced the risk of CHD events by 10%. Finally, the researchers found that the benefits associated with PUFA consumption increased with longer duration of the trials.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the replacement of some dietary SFA with PUFA reduces CHD events. Because the trials included in this study looked only at replacing SFA with PUFA, it is not possible from this evidence alone to distinguish between the benefits of reducing SFA and the benefits of increasing PUFA. Furthermore, the small number of trials identified in this study all had design faults, so the risk reductions reported here may be inaccurate. However, other lines of evidence (for example, observational studies that have examined associations between the fat intake of populations and their risk of CHD) also suggest that consumption of PUFA in place of SFA reduces CHD risk. Thus, in the light of these findings, future recommendations to reduce SFA in the diet should stress the importance of replacing SFA with PUFA rather than with other forms of energy, and the current advice to limit PUFA intake should be revised.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The American Heart Association provides information about all aspects of coronary heart disease for patients, caregivers, and professionals, including advice on dietary fats (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site provides information about coronary heart disease
Eatwell, a resource provided by the UK Food Standards Agency, gives advice on all aspects of healthy eating, including fat consumption
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on coronary heart disease and on cholesterol (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2843598  PMID: 20351774
5.  Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acid Concentration and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001255.
Kay-Tee Khaw and colleagues analyze data from a prospective cohort study and show associations between plasma concentrations of saturated phospholipid fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease, and an inverse association between omega-6 polyunsaturated phospholipid fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease.
The lack of association found in several cohort studies between dietary saturated fat and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk has renewed debate over the link between dietary fats and CHD.
Methods and Findings
We assessed the relationship between plasma phospholipid fatty acid (PFA) concentration and incident CHD using a nested case control design within a prospective study (EPIC-Norfolk) of 25,639 individuals aged 40–79 years examined in 1993–1997 and followed up to 2009. Plasma PFA concentrations were measured by gas chromatography in baseline samples retrieved from frozen storage. In 2,424 men and women with incident CHD compared with 4,930 controls alive and free of cardiovascular disease, mean follow-up 13 years, saturated PFA (14:0, 16:0,18:0) plasma concentrations were significantly associated with increased CHD risk (odds ratio [OR] 1.75, 95% CI 1.27–2.41, p<0.0001), in top compared to bottom quartiles (Q), and omega-6 polyunsaturated PFA concentrations were inversely related (OR 0.77, 0.60–0.99, p<0.05) after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, blood pressure, smoking, alcohol intake, plasma vitamin C, social class, education, and other PFAs. Monounsaturated PFA, omega-3 PFA, and trans PFA concentrations were not significantly associated with CHD. Odd chain PFA (15:0, 17:0) concentrations were significantly inversely associated with CHD (OR 0.73, 0.59–0.91, p<0.001, Q4 versus Q1). Within families of saturated PFA or polyunsaturated PFA, significantly heterogeneous relationships with CHD were observed for individual fatty acids.
In this study, plasma concentrations of even chain saturated PFA were found to be positively and omega-6 polyunsaturated PFA inversely related to subsequent coronary heart disease risk. These findings are consistent with accumulating evidence suggesting a protective role of omega-6 fats substituting for saturated fats for CHD prevention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a condition caused by a build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels that supply the heart, causing the affected person to experience pain, usually on exertion (angina). A complete occlusion of the vessel by deposits causes a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Lifestyle factors, such as diet (particularly one high in fat), contribute to causing CHD. There are different types of fat, some of which are thought to increase risk of CHD, such as saturated fat, typically found in meat and dairy foods. However, others, such as unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) found in foods such as vegetable oils, fish, and nuts, may actually help prevent this condition.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although there have been many studies investigating the role of different types of dietary fat in coronary heart disease, it is still not clear whether coronary heart disease can be prevented by changing the type of dietary fat consumed from saturated to unsaturated fats or by lowering all types of dietary fat. Furthermore, many of these studies have relied on participants recalling their dietary intake in questionnaires, which is an unreliable method for different fats. So in this study, the researchers used an established UK cohort to measure the levels of different types of fatty acids in blood to investigate whether a diet high in saturated fatty acids and low in unsaturated fatty acids increases CHD risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a selection of 10,000 participants (all men and women aged 40–79 years) from the prospective European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk cohort. Blood samples from the selected participants taken at the start of the study in 1993–1997 were analyzed to determine levels of specific fatty acids. Participants were followed up till 2011. The researchers identified 2,424 participants who were subsequently diagnosed with CHD using death certificates and hospital discharge data and matched these with 4,930 controls who were still alive and free of known coronary disease. The researchers grouped the type of blood fatty acids identified in the blood samples into six families (even chain saturated fatty acid, odd chain saturated fatty acid, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid, and trans-fatty acid), which represented saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Using statistical methods, the researchers then compared the risks of developing CHD between cases and controls by the concentration of fatty acid families after adjusting for age and sex and other factors, such as body mass index, physical activity, and smoking. Using these methods, the researchers found that there was no overall significant relationship between total blood fatty acid concentration and CHD but there was a positive association with increasing blood saturated fatty acid concentration after adjusting for other fatty acid concentrations, with an odds ratio of 1.83 comparing higher versus lower concentrations. This risk was attenuated after adjusting for cholesterol levels, indicating that much of the association between saturated fatty acid and CHD is likely to be mediated through blood cholesterol levels. In contrast, blood omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acid concentrations were associated with lower CHD risk. Blood monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and trans-fatty acids were not consistently associated with CHD risk. The authors also noted that within families of fatty acids, individual fatty acids related differently to CHD risk.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that plasma concentrations of saturated fatty acids are associated with increased risk of CHD and that concentrations of omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids are associated with decreased risk of CHD. These findings are consistent with other studies and with current dietary advice for preventing CHD, which encourages substituting foods high in saturated fat with n-6 polyunsaturated fats. The results also suggest that different fatty acids may relate differently to CHD risk and that the overall balance between different fatty acids is important. However, there are limitations to this study, such as that factors other than diet (genetic differences in metabolism, for example) may cause changes to blood fatty acid levels so a major question is to identify what factors influence blood fatty acid concentrations. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that individual fatty acids play a role in increasing or decreasing risks of CHD.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information about the EPIC-Norfolk study is available
The American Heart Foundation provides patient-friendly information about different dietary fats as does Medline
The British Heart Foundation also provides patient-friendly information on heart conditions
PMCID: PMC3389034  PMID: 22802735
6.  Genetic Markers of Adult Obesity Risk Are Associated with Greater Early Infancy Weight Gain and Growth 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000284.
Ken Ong and colleagues genotyped children from the ALSPAC birth cohort and showed an association between greater early infancy gains in weight and length and genetic markers for adult obesity risk.
Genome-wide studies have identified several common genetic variants that are robustly associated with adult obesity risk. Exploration of these genotype associations in children may provide insights into the timing of weight changes leading to adult obesity.
Methods and Findings
Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort were genotyped for ten genetic variants previously associated with adult BMI. Eight variants that showed individual associations with childhood BMI (in/near: FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, GNPDA2, KCTD15, NEGR1, BDNF, and ETV5) were used to derive an “obesity-risk-allele score” comprising the total number of risk alleles (range: 2–15 alleles) in each child with complete genotype data (n = 7,146). Repeated measurements of weight, length/height, and body mass index from birth to age 11 years were expressed as standard deviation scores (SDS). Early infancy was defined as birth to age 6 weeks, and early infancy failure to thrive was defined as weight gain between below the 5th centile, adjusted for birth weight. The obesity-risk-allele score showed little association with birth weight (regression coefficient: 0.01 SDS per allele; 95% CI 0.00–0.02), but had an apparently much larger positive effect on early infancy weight gain (0.119 SDS/allele/year; 0.023–0.216) than on subsequent childhood weight gain (0.004 SDS/allele/year; 0.004–0.005). The obesity-risk-allele score was also positively associated with early infancy length gain (0.158 SDS/allele/year; 0.032–0.284) and with reduced risk of early infancy failure to thrive (odds ratio  = 0.92 per allele; 0.86–0.98; p = 0.009).
The use of robust genetic markers identified greater early infancy gains in weight and length as being on the pathway to adult obesity risk in a contemporary birth cohort.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The proportion of overweight and obese children is increasing across the globe. In the US, the Surgeon General estimates that, compared with 1980, twice as many children and three times the number of adolescents are now overweight. Worldwide, 22 million children under five years old are considered by the World Health Organization to be overweight.
Being overweight or obese in childhood is associated with poor physical and mental health. In addition, childhood obesity is considered a major risk factor for adult obesity, which is itself a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other chronic conditions.
The most commonly used measure of whether an adult is a healthy weight is body mass index (BMI), defined as weight in kilograms/(height in metres)2. However, adult categories of obese (>30) and overweight (>25) BMI are not directly applicable to children, whose BMI naturally varies as they grow. BMI can be used to screen children for being overweight and or obese but a diagnosis requires further information.
Why Was This Study Done?
As the numbers of obese and overweight children increase, a corresponding rise in future numbers of overweight and obese adults is also expected. This in turn is expected to lead to an increasing incidence of poor health. As a result, there is great interest among health professionals in possible pathways between childhood and adult obesity. It has been proposed that certain periods in childhood may be critical for the development of obesity.
In the last few years, ten genetic variants have been found to be more common in overweight or obese adults. Eight of these have also been linked to childhood BMI and/or obesity. The authors wanted to identify the timing of childhood weight changes that may be associated with adult obesity. Knowledge of obesity risk genetic variants gave them an opportunity to do so now, without following a set of children to adulthood.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors analysed data gathered from a subset of 7,146 singleton white European children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study, which is investigating associations between genetics, lifestyle, and health outcomes for a group of children in Bristol whose due date of birth fell between April 1991 and December 1992. They used knowledge of the children's genetic makeup to find associations between an obesity risk allele score—a measure of how many of the obesity risk genetic variants a child possessed—and the children's weight, height, BMI, levels of body fat (at nine years old), and rate of weight gain, up to age 11 years.
They found that, at birth, children with a higher obesity risk allele score were not any heavier, but in the immediate postnatal period they were less likely to be in the bottom 5% of the population for weight gain (adjusted for birthweight), often termed “failure to thrive.” At six weeks of age, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be longer and heavier, even allowing for weight at birth.
After six weeks of age, the obesity risk allele score was not associated with any further increase in length/height, but it was associated with a more rapid weight gain between birth and age 11 years. BMI is derived from height and weight measurements, and the association between the obesity risk allele score and BMI was weak between birth and age three-and-a-half years, but after that age the association with BMI increased rapidly. By age nine, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be heavier and taller, with more fat on their bodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The combined obesity allele risk score is associated with higher rates of weight gain and adult obesity, and so the authors conclude that weight gain and growth even in the first few weeks after birth may be the beginning of a pathway of greater adult obesity risk.
A study that tracks a population over time can find associations but it cannot show cause and effect. In addition, only a relatively small proportion (1.7%) of the variation in BMI at nine years of age is explained by the obesity risk allele score.
The authors' method of finding associations between childhood events and adult outcomes via genetic markers of risk of disease as an adult has a significant advantage: the authors did not have to follow the children themselves to adulthood, so their findings are more likely to be relevant to current populations. Despite this, this research does not yield advice for parents how to reduce their children's obesity risk. It does suggest that “failure to thrive” in the first six weeks of life is not simply due to a lack of provision of food by the baby's caregiver but that genetic factors also contribute to early weight gain and growth.
The study looked at the combined obesity risk allele score and the authors did not attempt to identify which individual alleles have greater or weaker associations with weight gain and overweight or obesity. This would require further research based on far larger numbers of babies and children. The findings may also not be relevant to children in other types of setting because of the effects of different nutrition and lifestyles.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Further information is available on the ALSPAC study
The UK National Health Service and other partners provide guidance on establishing a healthy lifestyle for children and families in their Change4Life programme
The International Obesity Taskforce is a global network of expertise and the advocacy arm of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. It works with the World Health Organization, other NGOs, and stakeholders and provides information on overweight and obesity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US provide guidance and tips on maintaining a healthy weight, including BMI calculators in both metric and Imperial measurements for both adults and children. They also provide BMI growth charts for boys and girls showing how healthy ranges vary for each sex at with age
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health provides growth charts for weight and length/height from birth to age 4 years that are based on WHO 2006 growth standards and have been adapted for use in the UK
The CDC Web site provides information on overweight and obesity in adults and children, including definitions, causes, and data
The CDC also provide information on the role of genes in causing obesity.
The World Health Organization publishes a fact sheet on obesity, overweight and weight management, including links to childhood overweight and obesity
Wikipedia includes an article on childhood obesity (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2876048  PMID: 20520848
7.  Do family history of CHD, education, paternal social class, number of siblings and height explain the association between psychosocial factors at work and coronary heart disease? The Whitehall II study 
To examine whether the association between psychosocial factors at work and incident coronary heart disease (CHD) is explained by pre-employment factors such as family history of CHD, education, paternal social class, number of siblings and height.
A prospective cohort study of 6435 of British men aged 35–55 years at phase 1 (1985–1988) and free from prevalent CHD at phase 2 (1989–1990) was conducted. Psychosocial factors at work were assessed at phases 1 and 2 and mean scores across the two phases were used to determine long-term exposure. Selected pre-employment factors were assessed at phase 1. Follow-up for coronary death, first non-fatal myocardial infarction or definite angina between phase 2 and 1999 was based on clinical records (250 events, follow-up 8.7 years).
Pre-employment factors were associated with risk for CHD: hazard ratio, HRs (95% CI) were 1.33 (1.03 to 1.73) for family history of CHD, 1.18 (1.05–1.32) for each quartile decrease in height, and marginally 1.16 (0.99–1.35) for each category increase in number of siblings. Psychosocial work factors predicted CHD: 1.72 (1.08–2.74) for low job control and 1.72 (1.10–2.67) for low organisational justice. Adjustment for pre-employment factors changed these associations by 4.1% or less.
In this well-characterised occupational cohort of British men, the association between psychosocial factors at work and CHD was largely independent of family history of CHD, education, paternal education and social class, number of siblings and height.
PMCID: PMC3226944  PMID: 19819857
coronary heart disease; job control; organisational justice; pre-employment factors
8.  Association of Race and Sex With Risk of Incident Acute Coronary Heart Disease Events 
It is unknown whether long-standing disparities in incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) among US blacks and whites persist.
To examine incident CHD by black and white race and by sex.
Prospective cohort study of 24 443 participants without CHD at baseline from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) cohort, who resided in the continental United States and were enrolled between 2003 and 2007 with follow-up through December 31, 2009.
Expert-adjudicated total (fatal and nonfatal) CHD, fatal CHD, and nonfatal CHD (definite or probable myocardial infarction [MI]; very small non–ST-elevation MI [NSTEMI] had peak troponin level <0.5 µg/L).
Over a mean (SD) of 4.2 (1.5) years of follow-up, 659 incident CHD events occurred (153 in black men, 138 in black women, 254 in white men, and 114 in white women). Among men, the age-standardized incidence rate per 1000 person-years for total CHD was 9.0 (95% CI, 7.5–10.8) for blacks vs 8.1 (95% CI, 6.9–9.4) for whites; fatal CHD: 4.0 (95% CI, 2.9–5.3) vs 1.9 (95% CI, 1.4–2.6), respectively; and nonfatal CHD: 4.9 (95% CI, 3.8–6.2) vs 6.2 (95% CI, 5.2–7.4). Among women, the age-standardized incidence rate per 1000 person-years for total CHD was 5.0 (95% CI, 4.2–6.1) for blacks vs 3.4 (95% CI, 2.8–4.2) for whites; fatal CHD: 2.0 (95% CI, 1.5–2.7) vs 1.0 (95% CI, 0.7–1.5), respectively; and nonfatal CHD: 2.8 (95% CI, 2.2–3.7) vs 2.2 (95% CI, 1.7–2.9). Age- and region-adjusted hazard ratios for fatal CHD among blacks vs whites was near 2.0 for both men and women and became statistically nonsignificant after multivariable adjustment. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio for incident nonfatal CHD for blacks vs whites was 0.68 (95% CI, 0.51–0.91) for men and 0.81 (95% CI, 0.58–1.15) for women. Of the 444 nonfatal CHD events, 139 participants (31.3%) had very small NSTEMIs.
The higher risk of fatal CHD among blacks compared with whites was associated with cardiovascular disease risk factor burden. These relationships may differ by sex.
PMCID: PMC3772637  PMID: 23117777
coronary heart disease; epidemiology; racial disparities; disease incidence; cohort study
9.  Height loss and future coronary heart disease in London: the Whitehall II study 
While several plausible biological mechanisms have been advanced for the association between greater physical stature and lower coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in prospective cohort studies, the importance of one of the principal artifactua explanations – reverse causality due to shrinkage – remains unresolved. To explore this issue, studies with repeat measurements of height are required, however, to date, such data have been lacking.
We analysed data from the Whitehall II prospective cohort study of 3802 men and 1615 women who participated in a physical examination in 1985/88, had their height re-measured in 1997/99, and were then followed for fatal and non-fatal CHD.
A mean follow-up of 7.4 years after the second height measurement gave rise to 69 CHD events in men (18 in women). After adjustment for baseline CHD risk factors, greater loss of physical stature between survey and resurvey was associated with an increased risk of CHD in men (hazard ratio; 95% CI for a one SD increase: 1.24; 1.00, 1.53) but not women (0.93; 0.58, 1.50).
It is possible that reverse causality due to shrinkage may contribute to the inverse association between a single measurement of height and later CHD in other studies.
PMCID: PMC3226938  PMID: 20805197
10.  Homocysteine and Coronary Heart Disease: Meta-analysis of MTHFR Case-Control Studies, Avoiding Publication Bias 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001177.
Robert Clarke and colleagues conduct a meta-analysis of unpublished datasets to examine the causal relationship between elevation of homocysteine levels in the blood and the risk of coronary heart disease. Their data suggest that an increase in homocysteine levels is not likely to result in an increase in risk of coronary heart disease.
Moderately elevated blood levels of homocysteine are weakly correlated with coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, but causality remains uncertain. When folate levels are low, the TT genotype of the common C677T polymorphism (rs1801133) of the methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase gene (MTHFR) appreciably increases homocysteine levels, so “Mendelian randomization” studies using this variant as an instrumental variable could help test causality.
Methods and Findings
Nineteen unpublished datasets were obtained (total 48,175 CHD cases and 67,961 controls) in which multiple genetic variants had been measured, including MTHFR C677T. These datasets did not include measurements of blood homocysteine, but homocysteine levels would be expected to be about 20% higher with TT than with CC genotype in the populations studied. In meta-analyses of these unpublished datasets, the case-control CHD odds ratio (OR) and 95% CI comparing TT versus CC homozygotes was 1.02 (0.98–1.07; p = 0.28) overall, and 1.01 (0.95–1.07) in unsupplemented low-folate populations. By contrast, in a slightly updated meta-analysis of the 86 published studies (28,617 CHD cases and 41,857 controls), the OR was 1.15 (1.09–1.21), significantly discrepant (p = 0.001) with the OR in the unpublished datasets. Within the meta-analysis of published studies, the OR was 1.12 (1.04–1.21) in the 14 larger studies (those with variance of log OR<0.05; total 13,119 cases) and 1.18 (1.09–1.28) in the 72 smaller ones (total 15,498 cases).
The CI for the overall result from large unpublished datasets shows lifelong moderate homocysteine elevation has little or no effect on CHD. The discrepant overall result from previously published studies reflects publication bias or methodological problems.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death among adults in developed countries. With age, fatty deposits (atherosclerotic plaques) coat the walls of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients. The resultant restriction of the heart's blood supply causes shortness of breath, angina (chest pains that are usually relieved by rest), and sometimes fatal heart attacks. Many established risk factors for CHD, including smoking, physical inactivity, being overweight, and eating a fat-rich diet, can be modified by lifestyle changes. Another possible modifiable risk factor for CHD is a high blood level of the amino acid homocysteine. Methylene tetrahydofolate reductase, which is encoded by the MTHFR gene, uses folate to break down and remove homocysteine so fortification of cereals with folate can reduce population homocysteine blood levels. Pooled results from prospective observational studies that have looked for an association between homocysteine levels and later development of CHD suggest that the reduction in homocysteine levels that can be achieved by folate supplementation is associated with an 11% lower CHD risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
Prospective observational studies cannot prove that high homocysteine levels cause CHD because of confounding, the potential presence of other unknown shared characteristics that really cause CHD. However, an approach called “Mendelian randomization” can test whether high blood homocysteine causes CHD. A common genetic variant of the MTHFR gene—the C677T polymorphism—reduces MTHFR efficiency so TT homozygotes (individuals in whom both copies of the MTHFR gene have the nucleotide thymine at position 677; the human genome contains two copies of most genes) have 25% higher blood homocysteine levels than CC homozygotes. In meta-analyses (statistical pooling of the results of several studies) of published Mendelian randomized studies, TT homozygotes have a higher CHD risk than CC homozygotes. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not subject to confounding, so this result suggests that high blood homocysteine causes CHD. But what if only Mendelian randomization studies that found an association have been published? Such publication bias would affect this aggregate result. Here, the researchers investigate the association of the MTHFR C677T polymorphism with CHD in unpublished datasets that have analyzed this polymorphism incidentally during other genetic studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained 19 unpublished datasets that contained data on the MTHFR C677T polymorphism in thousands of people with and without CHD. Meta-analysis of these datasets indicates that the excess CHD risk in TT homozygotes compared to CC homozygotes was 2% (much lower than predicted from the prospective observational studies), a nonsignificant difference (that is, it could have occurred by chance). When the probable folate status of the study populations (based on when national folic acid fortification legislation came into effect) was taken into account, there was still no evidence that TT homozygotes had an excess CHD risk. By contrast, in an updated meta-analysis of 86 published studies of the association of the polymorphism with CHD, the excess CHD risk in TT homozygotes compared to CC homozygotes was 15%. Finally, in a meta-analysis of randomized trials on the use of vitamin B supplements for homocysteine reduction, folate supplementation had no significant effect on the 5-year incidence of CHD.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These analyses of unpublished datasets are consistent with lifelong moderate elevation of homocysteine levels having no significant effect on CHD risk. In other words, these findings indicate that circulating homocysteine levels within the normal range are not causally related to CHD risk. The meta-analysis of the randomized trials of folate supplementation also supports this conclusion. So why is there a discrepancy between these findings and those of meta-analyses of published Mendelian randomization studies? The discrepancy is too large to be dismissed as a chance finding, suggest the researchers, but could be the result of publication bias—some studies might have been prioritized for publication because of the positive nature of their results whereas the unpublished datasets used in this study would not have been affected by any failure to publish null results. Overall, these findings reveal a serious example of publication bias and argue against the use of folate supplements as a means of reducing CHD risk.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The American Heart Association provides information about CHD and tips on keeping the heart healthy; it also provides information on homocysteine, folic acid, and CHD, general information on supplements and heart health, and personal stories about CHD
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about CHD, including personal stories about CHD
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on heart disease and keeping the heart healthy
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute also provides information on CHD (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on CHD (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3283559  PMID: 22363213
11.  Parental height in relation to offspring coronary heart disease: examining transgenerational influences on health using the west of Scotland Midspan Family Study 
Background Adult height is known to be inversely related to coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. We sought to investigate transgenerational influence of parental height on offspring’s CHD risk.
Methods Parents took part in a cardiorespiratory disease survey in two Scottish towns during the 1970s, in which their physical stature was measured. In 1996, their offspring were invited to participate in a similar survey, which included an electrocardiogram recording and risk factor assessment.
Results A total of 2306 natural offspring aged 30–59 years from 1456 couples were subsequently flagged for notification of mortality and followed for CHD-related hospitalizations. Taller paternal and/or maternal height was associated with socio-economic advantage, heavier birthweight and increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in offspring. Increased height in fathers, but more strongly in mothers (risk ratio for 1 SD change in maternal height = 0.85; 95% confidence interval: 0.76 to 0.95), was associated with a lower risk of offspring CHD, adjusting for age, sex, other parental height and CHD risk factors.
Conclusion There is evidence of an association between taller parental, particularly maternal, height and lower offspring CHD risk. This may reflect an influence of early maternal growth on the intrauterine environment provided for her offspring.
PMCID: PMC3535757  PMID: 23087191
Coronary heart disease; mortality; intergenerational; height
12.  The Relationship between Proteinuria and Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):e207.
Markers of kidney dysfunction such as proteinuria or albuminuria have been reported to be associated with coronary heart disease, but the consistency and strength of any such relationship has not been clearly defined. This lack of clarity has led to great uncertainty as to how proteinuria should be treated in the assessment and management of cardiovascular risk. We therefore undertook a systematic review of published cohort studies aiming to provide a reliable estimate of the strength of association between proteinuria and coronary heart disease.
Methods and Findings
A meta-analysis of cohort studies was conducted to obtain a summary estimate of the association between measures of proteinuria and coronary risk. MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched for studies reporting an age- or multivariate-adjusted estimate and standard error of the association between proteinuria and coronary heart disease. Studies were excluded if the majority of the study population had known glomerular disease or were the recipients of renal transplants. Two independent researchers extracted the estimates of association between proteinuria (total urinary protein >300 mg/d), microalbuminuria (urinary albumin 30–300 mg/d), macroalbuminuria (urinary albumin >300 mg/d), and risk of coronary disease from individual studies. These estimates were combined using a random-effects model. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to examine possible sources of heterogeneity in effect size. A total of 26 cohort studies were identified involving 169,949 individuals and 7,117 coronary events (27% fatal). The presence of proteinuria was associated with an approximate 50% increase in coronary risk (risk ratio 1.47, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.23–1.74) after adjustment for known risk factors. For albuminuria, there was evidence of a dose–response relationship: individuals with microalbuminuria were at 50% greater risk of coronary heart disease (risk ratio 1.47, 95% CI 1.30–1.66) than those without; in those with macroalbuminuria the risk was more than doubled (risk ratio 2.17, 1.87–2.52). Sensitivity analysis indicated no important differences in prespecified subgroups.
These data confirm a strong and continuous association between proteinuria and subsequent risk of coronary heart disease, and suggest that proteinuria should be incorporated into the assessment of an individual's cardiovascular risk.
Vlado Perkovic and colleagues show, through a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies, that there is a strong and continuous association between proteinuria and subsequent risk of coronary heart disease.
Editors' Summary
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death among adults in developed countries. With age, fatty deposits called atherosclerotic plaques coat the walls of arteries, the vessels that nourish the organs of the body by carrying blood and oxygen to them. Because they narrow the arteries, atherosclerotic plaques restrict the blood flow to the body's organs. If these plaques form in the arteries that feed the heart muscle (the coronary arteries), the result is CHD. The symptoms of CHD include shortness of breath and chest pains (angina). In addition, if a plaque breaks off the wall of a coronary artery, it can completely block that artery, which kills part of the heart muscle and causes a potentially fatal heart attack. Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood levels of cholesterol (a type of fat), having diabetes, being overweight, and being physically inactive are established risk factors for CHD. Treatments for CHD include lifestyle changes (for example, losing weight) and medications that lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol. The narrowed arteries can also be widened using a device called a stent or surgically bypassed.
Why Was This Study Done?
In addition to the established risk factors for CHD, several other factors may also increase a person's risk of developing CHD, including kidney disease, which affects one in six adults to some degree. An early sign of kidney dysfunction is high amounts of a protein called albumin or of total proteins in the urine (albuminuria and proteinuria, respectively). Some studies have suggested that proteinuria is associated with an increased risk of CHD, but the results of these studies are inconsistent. Consequently, it is unclear whether proteinuria should be considered when assessing and managing an individual's CHD risk. In this study, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study in which predefined search criteria are used to identify all the research on a specific topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of several studies) of published studies that have investigated the association between proteinuria and CHD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers' systematic review identified 26 published studies that provided estimates of the association between CHD risk and proteinuria and albuminuria by measuring baseline urinary protein and albumin levels in people who were then followed for several years to see whether they developed CHD. Nearly 170,000 individuals participated in these studies, which recorded more 7,000 fatal and nonfatal heart attacks and other coronary events. In the meta-analysis, proteinuria (urinary protein of more than 300 mg/d or dipstick 1+ or more) increased CHD risk by 50% after adjustment for other known CHD risk factors. Furthermore, individuals with microalbuminuria (a urinary albumin of 30–300 mg/d) were 50% more likely to develop CHD than those with normal amounts of urinary albumin; people with macroalbuminuria (urinary albumin of more than 300 mg/d) were more than twice as likely to develop CHD. Finally, the association between proteinuria and CHD did not differ substantially between specific subgroups of participants such as people with and without diabetes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that there is a strong, possibly dose-dependent association between proteinuria and the risk of CHD and that this association is independent of other known CHD risk factors, including diabetes. The finding that people with proteinuria have a 50% or greater increased risk of developing CHD than people without proteinuria may be a slight overestimate of the strength of the association between proteinuria because of publication bias. That is, studies that failed to show an association may not have been published. However, because this systematic review and meta-analysis includes several large population-based studies done in various parts of the world, these findings are likely to be generalizable. Thus, these findings support the inclusion of an evaluation of proteinuria in the assessment of CHD risk and suggest that medications and other strategies that reduce proteinuria might help to reduce the overall burden of CHD.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, and chronic kidney failure (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute on coronary heart disease
The UK National Health Service Direct health encyclopedia also provides information about coronary heart disease (in several languages)
Information for patients and caregivers is provided by the American Heart Association on all aspects of heart disease.
The British Heart Foundation also provides information on heart disease and on keeping the heart healthy
PMCID: PMC2570419  PMID: 18942886
13.  A Prospective Study of Height and Body Mass Index in Childhood, Birth Weight, and Risk of Adult Glioma Over 40 Years of Follow-up 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2014;180(8):821-829.
Greater attained height and greater body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)2) in young adulthood have been associated with glioma risk, but few studies have investigated the association with body size at birth or during childhood, when the brain undergoes rapid cell growth and differentiation. The Copenhagen School Health Records Register includes data on 320,425 Danish schoolchildren born between 1930 and 1989, with height and weight measurements from ages 7–13 years and parentally recorded birth weights. We prospectively evaluated associations between childhood height and BMI, birth weight, and adult glioma risk. During follow-up (1968–2010), 355 men and 253 women aged ≥18 years were diagnosed with glioma. In boys, height at each age between 7 and 13 years was positively associated with glioma risk; hazard ratios per standard-deviation score at ages 7 (approximately 5.1 cm) and 13 (approximately 7.6 cm) years were 1.17 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.05, 1.30) and 1.21 (95% CI: 1.09, 1.35), respectively. No associations were observed for childhood height in girls or for BMI. Birth weight was positively associated with risk (per 0.5 kg: hazard ratio = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.24). These results suggest that exposures associated with higher birth weight and, in boys, greater height during childhood may contribute to the etiology of adult glioma.
PMCID: PMC4188341  PMID: 25205831
adolescence; birth weight; body mass index; brain neoplasms; childhood; glioma; height; prospective studies
14.  Association of Lung Function with Coronary Heart Disease and Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes in Elderly: The Rancho Bernardo Study 
Respiratory medicine  2014;108(12):1779-1785.
Lung function is inversely associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). We evaluated the prospective association of reduced lung function by spirometry and CHD or CVD events in older community-dwelling adults.
We studied 1,548 participants (mean age 73.6±9.2 years, 42% males) from the Rancho Bernardo Study using age, sex, and risk-factor adjusted Cox regression to assess pulmonary function (FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC ratio) as a predictor of CHD and CVD events followed for up to 22 years.
Of CVD risk factors, older age, male sex, current/past smoking, physical exercise (<3x a week), and prevalent CVD predicted an increased risk of CHD and CVD. Higher FEV1 and FVC were each associated with a decreased risk of CHD [HR 0.80 (0.73-0.88) for both FEV1 and FVC, per SD, p<.01] and CVD [HR 0.82 (0.74-0.91) for both FEV1 and FVC, per SD, p<.01]. Those in the lowest quartiles of FEV1 and FVC had hazard ratios of 1.68 (1.33-2.13) and 1.55 (1.21-2.00) respectively for CHD and 1.74 (1.34-2.25) and 1.49 (1.13-1.96) respectively for CVD (all p<.01, relative to those in the highest quartile). Similar findings were observed for CHD and CVD mortality. Sex- and age-stratified analyses showed the strongest associations for CHD and CVD events in women and in the oldest participants.
FEV1 and FVC are inversely associated with risk of future CHD and CVD events in older community-dwelling adults and may add to CVD risk stratification in the elderly.
PMCID: PMC4254667  PMID: 25448311
Pulmonary Function Test; Coronary Heart Disease; Cardiovascular Disease; Epidemiology
15.  Associations of height, leg length, and lung function with cardiovascular risk factors in the Midspan Family Study 
Background: Taller people and those with better lung function are at reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Biological mechanisms for these associations are not well understood, but both measures may be markers for early life exposures. Some studies have shown that leg length, an indicator of pre-pubertal nutritional status, is the component of height most strongly associated with CHD risk. Other studies show that height-CHD associations are greatly attenuated when lung function is controlled for. This study examines (1) the association of height and the components of height (leg length and trunk length) with CHD risk factors and (2) the relative strength of the association of height and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) with risk factors for CHD.
Subjects and methods: Cross sectional analysis of data collected at detailed cardiovascular screening examinations of 1040 men and 1298 women aged 30–59 whose parents were screened in 1972–76. Subjects come from 1477 families and are members of the Midspan Family Study.
Setting: The towns of Renfrew and Paisley in the West of Scotland.
Results: Taller subjects and those with better lung function had more favourable cardiovascular risk factor profiles, associations were strongest in relation to FEV1. Higher FEV1 was associated with lower blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, fibrinogen, white blood cell count, and body mass index. Similar, but generally weaker, associations were seen with height. These associations were not attenuated in models controlling for parental height. Longer leg length, but not trunk length, was associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Longer leg length was also associated with more favourable levels of cholesterol and body mass index than trunk length.
Conclusions: These findings provide indirect evidence that measures of lung development and pre-pubertal growth act as biomarkers for childhood exposures that may modify an individual's risk of developing CHD. Genetic influences do not seem to underlie height-CHD associations.
PMCID: PMC1732388  PMID: 12540691
16.  Calcium Density of Coronary Artery Plaque and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Events 
Coronary artery calcium (CAC), measured by computed tomography (CT), has strong predictive value for incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. The standard CAC score is the Agatston, which is weighted upward for greater calcium density. However, some data suggest increased plaque calcium density may be protective for CVD.
To determine the independent associations of CAC volume and CAC density with incident CVD events.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Multicenter, prospective observational MESA study (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), conducted at 6 US field centers of 3398 men and women from 4 race/ethnicity groups; non-Hispanic white, African American, Hispanic, and Chinese. Participants were aged 45-84 years, free of known CVD at baseline, had CAC greater than 0 on their baseline CT, and were followed up through October 2010.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Incident coronary heart disease (CHD) and all CVD events
During a median of 7.6 years of follow-up, there were 175 CHD events and an additional 90 other CVD events for a total of 265 CVD events. With both lnCAC volume and CAC density scores in the same multivariable model, the lnCAC volume score showed an independent association with incident CHD, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.81 (95% CI, 1.47-2.23) per standard deviation (SD = 1.6) increase, absolute risk increase 6.1 per 1000 person-years, and for CVD an HR of 1.68 (95% CI, 1.42-1.98) per SD increase, absolute risk increase 7.9 per 1000 person-years. Conversely, the CAC density score showed an independent inverse association, with an HR of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.58-0.91) per SD (SD = 0.7) increase for CHD, absolute risk decrease 5.5 per 1000 person-years, and an HR of 0.71 (95% CI, 0.60-0.85) per SD increase for CVD, absolute risk decrease 8.2 per 1000 person years. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve analyses showed significantly improved risk prediction with the addition of the density score to a model containing the volume score for both CHD and CVD. In the intermediate CVD risk group, the area under the curve for CVD increased from 0.53 (95% CI, 0.48-0.59) to 0.59 (95% CI, 0.54-0.64), P = .02.
Conclusions and Relevance
CAC volume was positively and independently associated with CHD and CVD risk. At any level of CAC volume, CAC density was inversely and significantly associated with CHD and CVD risk. The role of CAC density should be considered when evaluating current CAC scoring systems.
PMCID: PMC4091626  PMID: 24247483
17.  Associations of components of adult height with coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women: the British women’s heart and health study 
Heart  2004;90(7):745-749.
Objective: To assess the associations between components of adult height and coronary heart disease (CHD) in postmenopausal women.
Methods: Cross sectional analysis of 4286 women randomly selected from 23 British towns. The association of components of adult height with prevalent CHD (n  =  694) were assessed.
Results: Shorter stature, shorter leg length, and trunk length were all associated with CHD in age adjusted analyses. The association between trunk length and CHD was attenuated to the null with adjustment for smoking. The leg length–CHD association was independent of smoking, socioeconomic position in childhood and adulthood, birth weight, and other potential confounders. Insulin resistance did not appear to be an important mediating factor in the association between leg length and CHD. After full adjustment for all potential confounding factors the odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of CHD for a 1 SD (4.3 cm) increase in leg length was 0.84 (0.77 to 0.93) and the odds ratio for a 1 SD (0.05) increase in the leg to trunk ratio was 0.85 (0.79 to 0.95).
Conclusions: The specific association between leg length and CHD suggests that early life environmental exposures that influence skeletal growth also influence CHD risk in later life.
PMCID: PMC1768318  PMID: 15201241
anthropometry; coronary heart disease; leg length; life course epidemiology; stature
18.  Long-Term Interleukin-6 Levels and Subsequent Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Two New Prospective Studies and a Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(4):e78.
The relevance to coronary heart disease (CHD) of cytokines that govern inflammatory cascades, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), may be underestimated because such mediators are short acting and prone to fluctuations. We evaluated associations of long-term circulating IL-6 levels with CHD risk (defined as nonfatal myocardial infarction [MI] or fatal CHD) in two population-based cohorts, involving serial measurements to enable correction for within-person variability. We updated a systematic review to put the new findings in context.
Methods and Findings
Measurements were made in samples obtained at baseline from 2,138 patients who had a first-ever nonfatal MI or died of CHD during follow-up, and from 4,267 controls in two cohorts comprising 24,230 participants. Correction for within-person variability was made using data from repeat measurements taken several years apart in several hundred participants. The year-to-year variability of IL-6 values within individuals was relatively high (regression dilution ratios of 0.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.28–0.53, over 4 y, and 0.35, 95% CI 0.23–0.48, over 12 y). Ignoring this variability, we found an odds ratio for CHD, adjusted for several established risk factors, of 1.46 (95% CI 1.29–1.65) per 2 standard deviation (SD) increase of baseline IL-6 values, similar to that for baseline C-reactive protein. After correction for within-person variability, the odds ratio for CHD was 2.14 (95% CI 1.45–3.15) with long-term average (“usual”) IL-6, similar to those for some established risk factors. Increasing IL-6 levels were associated with progressively increasing CHD risk. An updated systematic review of electronic databases and other sources identified 15 relevant previous population-based prospective studies of IL-6 and clinical coronary outcomes (i.e., MI or coronary death). Including the two current studies, the 17 available prospective studies gave a combined odds ratio of 1.61 (95% CI 1.42–1.83) per 2 SD increase in baseline IL-6 (corresponding to an odds ratio of 3.34 [95% CI 2.45–4.56] per 2 SD increase in usual [long-term average] IL-6 levels).
Long-term IL-6 levels are associated with CHD risk about as strongly as are some major established risk factors, but causality remains uncertain. These findings highlight the potential relevance of IL-6–mediated pathways to CHD.
John Danesh and colleagues show that long-term IL-6 levels are associated with coronary heart disease risk, thus highlighting the potential relevance of IL-6−mediated pathways to coronary heart disease.
Editors' Summary
Coronary heart disease (CHD), the leading cause of death among adults in developed countries, kills one person in the US every minute. With age, “atherosclerotic plaques”—deposits of fats, calcium, and various cellular waste products—coat the walls of arteries, causing them to narrow and harden, interrupting blood flow through the body. When this occurs in the coronary arteries, which nourish the heart muscle, the end result is CHD. If a plaque breaks off the artery wall, it can get trapped in the arteries and completely stop the blood flow, causing death of the heart muscle. The technical term for this is “myocardial infarction” (MI), although it is more commonly known as a heart attack. Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood levels of cholesterol (a type of fat), being overweight, and being physically inactive all increase the risk of developing CHD, as do some inherited factors. Treatments for CHD include lifestyle changes (for example, losing weight and exercising regularly) and medications that lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol. In the worst cases, the narrowed artery can be widened using a device called a stent or surgically bypassed.
Why Was This Study Done?
Atherosclerosis might, at least partly, be an inflammatory condition. Inflammation—an immune response to injury characterized by swelling and redness—involves the production of proteins called “cytokines,” which attract cells of the immune system to the site of injury. In atherosclerosis, damage to the artery walls seems to trigger inflammation, which helps the atherosclerotic plaques grow. Because of the potential involvement of inflammation in atherosclerosis, increased levels of circulating cytokines might be associated with an increased risk of CHD. If they are, cytokines might provide a new therapeutic target for the treatment of CHD. In this study, the researchers have asked whether prolonged moderate increases in the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the bloodstream are associated with CHD risk. IL-6, which is produced very early in inflammation, survives only briefly in the human body and its levels fluctuate within individuals. Consequently, its relevance to CHD has been unclear in previous studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1967 and 1991, nearly 25,000 healthy, mainly middle-aged people were enrolled into two studies—the Reykjavik Study and the British Regional Heart Study—and followed for about 20 years, during which time 2,138 people had a first-ever nonfatal heart attack or died of CHD. The researchers measured baseline IL-6 blood levels in these participants and in 4,267 similar participants who had not had a CHD event. They also measured IL-6 levels in 558 healthy participants several years into the study to determine a “regression dilution ratio” for IL-6. This ratio gives an idea of the year-to-year consistency of IL-6 levels. When the researchers used this ratio to estimate the impact of prolonged increases in IL-6 levels on CHD, they found that increased long-term IL-6 levels more than doubled the risk for CHD in their study populations. The researchers then combined these new results with those of 15 previous relevant studies. This combined analysis indicated very similar findings to those in the new data.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate prolonged moderate increases in IL-6 levels are associated with risk of CHD as strongly as several major established risk factors, including blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, but whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship remains unknown. More studies are needed to find out whether this result is generalisable to other populations, but the broad agreement between the Icelandic and British studies suggests that they should be. This study renews interest in IL-6–mediated inflammatory pathways and CHD.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Read a related PLoS Medicine Perspective article
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute on coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis
Information for patients and caregivers is provided by the American Heart Association on all aspects of heart disease, including inflammation and heart disease
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on heart disease and on keeping the heart healthy
Further details are available about the Reykjavik Study and the British Regional Heart Study
Wikipedia has pages on inflammation and on interleukin-6 (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2288623  PMID: 18399716
19.  Carotid arterial wall characteristics are associated with incident ischemic stroke but not coronary heart disease in the ARIC Study 
Background and Purpose
Ultrasound measurements of arterial stiffness are associated with atherosclerosis risk factors, but limited data exist on their association with incident cardiovascular events. We evaluated the association of carotid ultrasound derived arterial stiffness measures with incident coronary heart disease (CHD) and ischemic stroke in the ARIC study.
Carotid arterial strain (CAS) and compliance (AC), distensibility (AD) and stiffness indices (SI), pressure-strain (Ep) and Young’s elastic moduli (YEM) were measured in 10,407 individuals using ultrasound. Hazard ratios for incident CHD (myocardial infarction [MI], fatal CHD, coronary revascularization) and stroke in minimally adjusted (age, sex, center, race) and fully adjusted models (minimally adjusted model + diabetes, height, weight, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, tobacco use, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive medication use, and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) were calculated.
The mean age was 55.3 years. Over a mean follow up of 13.8 years, 1,267 incident CHD and 383 ischemic stroke events occurred. After full adjustment for risk factors and CIMT, all arterial stiffness parameters [CAS HR (95% confidence interval [CI]) =1.14 (1.02, 1.28); AD HR=1.19 (1.02, 1.39); SI HR=1.14 (1.04, 1.25); Ep HR=1.17 (1.06, 1.28); YEM HR=1.13 (1.03, 1.24)], except arterial compliance HR=1.02 (0.90, 1.16), were significantly associated with incident stroke but not with CHD.
After adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, ultrasound measures of carotid arterial stiffness are associated with incident ischemic stroke but not incident CHD events, despite that the 2 outcomes sharing similar risk factors.
PMCID: PMC3246524  PMID: 22033999
arterial stiffness; carotid ultrasound; coronary heart disease; stroke; ARIC
20.  Modelling Survival and Mortality Risk to 15 Years of Age for a National Cohort of Children with Serious Congenital Heart Defects Diagnosed in Infancy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106806.
Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are a significant cause of death in infancy. Although contemporary management ensures that 80% of affected children reach adulthood, post-infant mortality and factors associated with death during childhood are not well-characterised. Using data from a UK-wide multicentre birth cohort of children with serious CHDs, we observed survival and investigated independent predictors of mortality up to age 15 years.
Data were extracted retrospectively from hospital records and death certificates of 3,897 children (57% boys) in a prospectively identified cohort, born 1992–1995 with CHDs requiring intervention or resulting in death before age one year. A discrete-time survival model accounted for time-varying predictors; hazards ratios were estimated for mortality. Incomplete data were addressed through multilevel multiple imputation.
By age 15 years, 932 children had died; 144 died without any procedure. Survival to one year was 79.8% (95% confidence intervals [CI] 78.5, 81.1%) and to 15 years was 71.7% (63.9, 73.4%), with variation by cardiac diagnosis. Importantly, 20% of cohort deaths occurred after age one year. Models using imputed data (including all children from birth) demonstrated higher mortality risk as independently associated with cardiac diagnosis, female sex, preterm birth, having additional cardiac defects or non-cardiac malformations. In models excluding children who had no procedure, additional predictors of higher mortality were younger age at first procedure, lower weight or height, longer cardiopulmonary bypass or circulatory arrest duration, and peri-procedural complications; non-cardiac malformations were no longer significant.
We confirm the high mortality risk associated with CHDs in the first year of life and demonstrate an important persisting risk of death throughout childhood. Late mortality may be underestimated by procedure-based audit focusing on shorter-term surgical outcomes. National monitoring systems should emphasise the importance of routinely capturing longer-term survival and exploring the mechanisms of mortality risk in children with serious CHDs.
PMCID: PMC4160226  PMID: 25207942
21.  Childhood height and birth weight in relation to future prostate cancer risk: a cohort study based on the Copenhagen School Health Records Register 
Adult height has been positively associated with prostate cancer risk. However, the exposure window of importance is currently unknown and assessments of height during earlier growth periods are scarce. In addition, the association between birth weight and prostate cancer remains undetermined. We assessed these relationships a cohort of the Copenhagen School Health Records Register (CSHRR).
The CSHRR comprises 372,636 school children. For boys born between the 1930’s and 1969, birth weight and annual childhood heights—measured between ages 7 and 13 years—were analyzed in relation to prostate cancer risk. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95 percent confidence intervals (95%CI).
There were 125,211 males for analysis, 2,987 of who were subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer during 2.57 million person-years of follow-up. Height z-score was significantly associated with prostate cancer risk at all ages (HR~1.13). Height at age 13 years was more important than height change (p=0.024) and height at age 7 years (p=0.024), when estimates from mutually adjusted models were compared. Adjustment of birth weight did not alter estimates ascertained. Birth weight was not associated with prostate cancer risk.
The association between childhood height and prostate cancer risk was driven by height at age 13 years.
Our findings implicate late childhood, adolescence and adulthood growth periods as containing the exposure window(s) of interest that underlies the association between height and prostate cancer. The causal factor may not be singular given the complexity of both human growth and carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3863763  PMID: 24089459
prostate neoplasms; body height; growth; body weights and measures; birth weight; cohort studies
22.  Adiposity markers and risk of coronary heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus 
Nutrition Journal  2014;13:124.
This cross-sectional study aimed to evaluating the association between body adiposity markers and high-risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Recent adiposity markers [waist-to-height ratio, conicity index (C-index) and body adiposity index] and traditional markers [BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)] were measured. The 10-year risk of fatal CHD was estimated according to UKPDS risk engine scores. Patients were divided into high (CHD risk ≥20%; n = 99) or low-moderate (CHD risk <20%; n = 321) risk groups. Multiple logistic regression models were performed to analyze associations between CHD risk (outcome) and adiposity markers.
A total of 420 patients with type 2 diabetes (61.9 ± 9.5 years; 53.5% females; HbA1c 7.6 ± 1.6%) were evaluated. The high risk group had greater proportions of elevated C-index and BMI values than patients with low-moderate risk. No between-group differences in other adiposity markers were observed. In multiple logistic regression models, only C-index values ≥1.35 were associated with CHD risk >20% (OR = 1.69; 95% CI 1.03-2.78; P = 0.039) after adjusting for confounders (sedentary lifestyle, diabetic nephropathy, serum creatinine, and diabetes duration). The association between WHR and CHD risk did not hold in this sample.
The C-index was the body adiposity marker best associated with high risk of fatal CHD in these patients with type 2 diabetes.
PMCID: PMC4292825  PMID: 25539716
Anthropometry; Body fat distribution; Obesity; Abdominal; Coronary disease; Diabetes mellitus; Type 2
23.  Association between urinary albumin excretion and coronary heart disease in black versus white adults 
JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association  2013;310(7):10.1001/jama.2013.8777.
Excess urinary albumin excretion is more common in black individuals than in white individuals and is more strongly associated with incident stroke risk in blacks than whites. Whether similar associations extend to coronary heart disease (CHD) is unclear.
To determine whether the association of urinary albumin excretion with CHD events differs by race.
Design, Setting and Participants
Within the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, a prospective cohort of black and white US adults ≥45 years of age enrolled between 2003 and 2007 with follow-up through December 31 2009, we examined race-stratified associations of urinary albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) with (1) incident CHD among 23,273 participants free of CHD at baseline, and (2) first recurrent CHD event among 4,934 participants with CHD at baseline.
Main Outcome Measure
Expert-adjudicated incident and recurrent myocardial infarction (MI) and acute CHD death.
A total of 616 incident CHD events (421 non-fatal MIs and 195 CHD deaths) and 468 recurrent CHD events (279 non-fatal MIs and 189 CHD deaths) were observed over a mean 4.4 years of follow-up. Among those free of CHD at baseline, age- and sex-adjusted incidence rates of CHD per 1000 person-years of follow-up increased with increasing categories of ACR in blacks and whites, with rates being nearly 1.5-fold higher in the highest category of ACR (>300 mg/g) in blacks vs. whites (20.59, 95% confidence interval [14.36,29.51] in blacks vs. 13.60 [7.60,24.25] in whites). In proportional hazards models adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and medications, higher baseline urinary ACR was associated with higher risk of incident CHD among blacks (hazard ratio [HR] comparing ACR >300 vs. <10 mg/g, 3.21 [2.02,5.09]) but not whites (HR comparing ACR >300 vs. <10 mg/g, 1.49 [0.80,2.76]) (P-interaction=0.03). Among those with CHD at baseline, fully-adjusted associations of baseline urinary ACR with first recurrent CHD event were similar in blacks and whites (HR comparing ACR >300 vs. <10 mg/g, 2.21 [1.22,4.00] in blacks vs. 2.48 [1.61,3.78] in whites) (P-interaction=0.53).
Higher urinary ACR was associated with higher risk of incident but not recurrent CHD in blacks compared to whites.
PMCID: PMC3837520  PMID: 23989654
24.  The association of the ankle-brachial index with incident coronary heart disease: the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study, 1987–2001 
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), defined by a low ankle-brachial index (ABI), is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, but the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) over the range of the ABI is not well characterized, nor described for African Americans.
The ABI was measured in 12186 white and African American men and women in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study in 1987–89. Fatal and non-fatal CHD events were ascertained through annual telephone contacts, surveys of hospital discharge lists and death certificate data, and clinical examinations, including electrocardiograms, every 3 years. Participants were followed for a median of 13.1 years. Age- and field-center-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated using Cox regression models.
Over a median 13.1 years follow-up, 964 fatal or non-fatal CHD events accrued. In whites, the age- and field-center-adjusted CHD hazard ratio (HR, 95% CI) for PAD (ABI<0.90) was 2.81 (1.77–4.45) for men and 2.05 (1.20–3.53) for women. In African Americans, the HR for men was 4.86 (2.76–8.47) and for women was 2.34 (1.26–4.35). The CHD risk increased exponentially with decreasing ABI as a continuous function, and continued to decline at ABI values > 1.0, in all race-gender subgroups. The association between the ABI and CHD relative risk was similar for men and women in both race groups. A 0.10 lower ABI increased the CHD hazard by 25% (95% CI 17–34%) in white men, by 20% (8–33%) in white women, by 34% (19–50%) in African American men, and by 32% (17–50%) in African American women.
African American members of the ARIC cohort had higher prevalences of PAD and greater risk of CHD associated with ABI-defined PAD than did white participants. Unlike in other cohorts, in ARIC the CHD risk failed to increase at high (>1.3) ABI values. We conclude that at this time high ABI values should not be routinely considered a marker for increased CVD risk in the general population. Further research is needed on the value of the ABI at specific cutpoints for risk stratification in the context of traditional risk factors.
PMCID: PMC1784111  PMID: 17227586
25.  Birth Weight, Childhood Body Mass Index and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Adults: Combined Historical Cohort Studies 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e14126.
Low birth weight and high childhood body mass index (BMI) is each associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in adult life. We studied individual and combined associations of birth weight and childhood BMI with the risk of CHD in adulthood.
Methods/Principal Findings
Birth weight and BMI at age seven years were available in 216,771 Danish and Finnish individuals born 1924–1976. Linkage to national registers for hospitalization and causes of death identified 8,805 CHD events during up to 33 years of follow-up (median = 24 years) after age 25 years. Analyses were conducted with Cox regression based on restricted cubic splines. Using median birth weight of 3.4 kg as reference, a non-linear relation between birth weight and CHD was found. It was not significantly different between cohorts, or between men and women, nor was the association altered by childhood BMI. For birth weights below 3.4 kg, the risk of CHD increased linearly and reached 1.28 (95% confidence limits: 1.13 to 1.44) at 2 kg. Above 3.4 kg the association weakened, and from about 4 kg there was virtually no association. BMI at age seven years was strongly positively associated with the risk of CHD and the relation was not altered by birth weight. The excess risk in individuals with a birth weight of 2.5 kg and a BMI of 17.7 kg/m2 at age seven years was 44% (95% CI: 30% to 59%) compared with individuals with median values of birth weight (3.4 kg) and BMI (15.3 kg/m2).
Birth weight and BMI at age seven years appeared independently associated with the risk of CHD in adulthood. From a public health perspective we suggest that particular attention should be paid to children with a birth weight below the average in combination with excess relative weight in childhood.
PMCID: PMC2993956  PMID: 21124730

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