OBJECTIVES:

Blood pressure tracks from adolescence to adulthood and is positively associated with low birth weight and faster infant growth. Most observations are from Western populations; it is unclear whether these are biologically based or contextually specific. We examined the associations of growth with blood pressure in adolescence.

METHODS:

Multivariable partial least squares regression was used to assess the associations of growth to ∼11 years with blood pressure at ∼11 years in 5813 term births from Hong Kong’s Children of 1997 birth cohort. Growth was considered as gender- and age-specific z-scores for birth weight, BMI, and length at 3 months; change in z-scores for BMI and height at 3 to 9 months, 9 to 36 months, 3 to 7 years, and 7 to 11 years; and BMI and height at 11 years.

RESULTS:

Birth weight was weakly inversely associated with systolic blood pressure in girls –0.58 mm Hg 95% confidence interval –1.05 to –0.12 (boys –0.21, –0.71 to 0.30). Childhood growth, particularly linear growth at 7 to 11 years (girls: 1.27, 0.56 to 1.98; boys 2.11, 1.39 to 2.83), as well as current height (girls: 2.40, 2.04 to 2.76, boys: 2.65, 2.29 to 3.01) and BMI (girls: 2.72, 2.35 to 3.09, boys: 2.72, 2.09 to 3.36) were associated with higher systolic blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure was also positively associated with current size.

CONCLUSIONS:

In the first study to examine simultaneously the role of pre- and postnatal growth in adolescent blood pressure, the role of late childhood growth predominated.

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