Lower birth weight is linked to poorer cardiovascular health in middle-aged population-based adults.
Raisi-Estabragh Z., Cooper J., Bethell MS., McCracken C., Lewandowski AJ., Leeson P., Neubauer S., Harvey NC., Petersen SE.
OBJECTIVE: To examine associations of birth weight with clinical and imaging indicators of cardiovascular health and evaluate mechanistic pathways in the UK Biobank. METHODS: Competing risk regression was used to estimate associations of birth weight with incident myocardial infarction (MI) and mortality (all-cause, cardiovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease, MI), over 7-12 years of longitudinal follow-up, adjusting for age, sex, deprivation, maternal smoking/hypertension and maternal/paternal diabetes. Mediation analysis was used to evaluate the role of childhood growth, adulthood obesity, cardiometabolic diseases and blood biomarkers in mediating the birth weight-MI relationship. Linear regression was used to estimate associations of birth weight with left ventricular (LV) mass-to-volume ratio, LV stroke volume, global longitudinal strain, LV global function index and left atrial ejection fraction. RESULTS: 258 787 participants from white ethnicities (61% women, median age 56 (49, 62) years) were studied. Birth weight had a non-linear relationship with incident MI, with a significant inverse association below an optimal threshold of 3.2 kg (subdistribution HR: 1.15 (1.08 to 1.22), p=6.0×10-5) and attenuation to the null above this threshold. The birth weight-MI effect was mediated through hypertension (8.4%), glycated haemoglobin (7.0%), C reactive protein (6.4%), high-density lipoprotein (5.2%) and high cholesterol (4.1%). Birth weight-mortality associations were statistically non-significant after Bonferroni correction. In participants with cardiovascular magnetic resonance (n=19 314), lower birth weight was associated with adverse LV remodelling (greater concentricity, poorer function). CONCLUSIONS: Lower birth weight was associated with greater risk of incident MI and unhealthy LV phenotypes; effects were partially mediated through cardiometabolic disease and systemic inflammation. These findings support consideration of birth weight in risk prediction and highlight actionable areas for disease prevention.