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Do infant weight gain patterns affect adult risk of coronary heart disease?

Contemporary PEDS Journal, July 2022,

Based on an investigation of associations between patterns of growth in infant weight and adult-onset coronary heart disease, the answer seems to be no.

The short answer to this question appears to be no based on an investigation of associations between patterns of growth in infant weight and adult-onset coronary heart disease (CHD).

Using data from national health registers, investigators in Denmark followed 3645 people who were born between 1959 and 1961 for whom they had weight information at birth, at aged 2 weeks, and at aged 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12 months. They then generated 5 sex-specific weight trajectories of infant weight development: very low-moderate increase (11.5% of the study population), low-marked increase (13.9%), low-stable increase (32.4%), average-stable increase (29.8%), and high-moderate increase (12.4%).

Investigators also examined parental socioeconomic and marital status, maternal prepregnancy body mass index (PP-BMI), maternal smoking, parity, birth weight, and gender. Infants in the very low-moderately increasing trajectory group were more often boys, had mothers who had more babies, and had a lower gestational age than those in other trajectory groups. Also, the mothers of the infants in the very low-moderately increasing weight group were more likely to be married, had a lower PP-BMI, and smoked more during pregnancy than the other mothers.

During follow-up, at a median of 31.4 years, 279 people (159 men and 120 women) received a diagnosis of CHD. Individuals with a very low-moderately increasing trajectory developed CHD more often than those with an average-stable increasing trajectory. Though this association persisted after adjustment for maternal factors, it decreased after additional adjustment for preterm birth and parity. Further, the association completely disappeared after adjustment for birth weight. Investigators therefore determined that though very low-moderate increasing weight during infancy was associated with more likelihood of adult CHD, this association was driven by differences in birth weight, not infant weight gain. These findings, they noted, highlight the importance of prenatal exposures.

Thoughts from Dr. Farber
This is a large and very long-term study. I find it difficult enough to win the weight battle with children in elementary school and up. It’s good to know that I do not seem to have to work on this in plump babies but can let them grow naturally.

Blond K, Jensen BW, Petersen J, Baker J, Bjerregaard LG. Trajectories of infant weight gain from birth to 12 months and adult-onset coronary heart disease. J Pediatr. 2022;S0022-3476(22)00305-5. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2022.03.055