Undernutrition in Early Life Ups CHD Risk in Adult Women

Undernutrition exposure in childhood, adolescence ups risk of coronary heart disease risk in adult life

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to undernutrition during postnatal developmental periods of childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in adult women, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in the European Heart Journal.

Annet F.M. van Ableen, from the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues investigated whether exposure to undernutrition during childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood was related to CHD and stroke in adult life. Data were collected from 7,845 women who had been exposed to the 1944 to 1945 Dutch famine when they were 0 to 21 years of age, and were included in the Prospect- European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort. The overall effect of famine on the risk of CHD and stroke, and the effect on CHD and stroke risk within exposure age categories (0 to 9, 10 to 17, ≥18 years) was assessed by Cox proportional hazard regression models. Analyses were adjusted for potential confounders, including age at famine exposure, smoking, and level of education as a proxy for socioeconomic status.

The investigators found that, overall, stronger famine exposure correlated with higher CHD risk. Women who were severely exposed to famine between the ages of 10 and 17 years, had a significantly higher risk of CHD (hazard ratio [HR], 1.38; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.03 to 1.84) than women of the same age who were not exposed to famine, with slight attenuation seen after adjusting for confounding factors (HR, 1.27; 95 percent CI, 0.94 to 1.71). Women exposed to famine had a lower stroke risk than those not exposed (HR, 0.79; 95 percent CI, 0.61 to 1.02), with similar results after adjustments for potential confounders (HR, 0.77; 95 percent CI, 0.59 to 0.99).

"This study provides the first direct evidence that exposure to undernutrition during postnatal periods of development, including adolescence, may affect cardiovascular health in adult life," the authors write.

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