Infant exposure to Chinese famine increased the risk of hypertension in adulthood: results from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study.BMC Public Health 2016; 16:435BP
Early-life developmental adaptations in response to severe malnutrition may play a crucial role in susceptibility to hypertension. This study aimed to explore the associations between exposure to the Chinese famine (1959-1961) at fetal, infant and preschool stages during fetal life or childhood and the risk of hypertension in adulthood.
We used the data of 1,966 adults born between 1956 and 1964 in selected families from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) national survey.
Prevalence of hypertension among adults in non-exposed, fetal-exposed, infant-exposed, and preschool-exposed cohorts was 18.9, 20.7, 28.7, and 23.4 %, respectively. In severely affected famine areas, only infant-exposed cohort had a significant increased risk of hypertension compared with non-exposed cohort (OR 2.12; 95 % CI 1.19, 3.79; P = 0.011), and the significance remained after adjusted gender, smoking, and drinking (OR 2.11; 95 % CI 1.18, 3.77; P = 0.012). After stratification by BMI and economic status, the risk of hypertension was higher for subjects with BMI ≥ 24 kg/m(2)(OR 2.09; 95 % CI 1.09, 4.01; P = 0.026) or high economic status(OR 2.26; 95 % CI 1.19, 4.31; P = 0.013) than those with BMI < 24 kg/m(2)(OR 1.65; 95 % CI 0.71, 3.83; P = 0.246) or low economic status (OR 2.18; 95 % CI 1.14, 4.18; P = 0.019) in infant-exposed cohort of severely affected famine areas. However, there was no consistent association observed in less severely affected area or other exposed cohorts in severely affected areas.
Infanthood exposed to famine might increase the risk of hypertension in adulthood, and a postnatal 'rich' nutrient environment further increased the risk.