Birth weight and blood pressure in adolescence studies may be misleading

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6944.1634 (Published 18 June 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1634
  1. D J P Barker,
  2. C M Law
  1. MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO9 4XY .
  2. Great Shelford, Cambridge CB2 5JE
  3. University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF4 4XN.

    EDITOR, - Jean W A Matthes and colleagues found that the blood pressures of 165 adolescents who had had low birth weight were no different from those of a similar number of controls and they concluded that this does not support a link between retarded fetal growth and hypertension.1 Their findings contrast with eight published studies in pre-adolescent children and four in adults which show that birth weight is inversely related to blood pressure. Differences associated with birth weight are small in childhood but are progressively amplified through life.2 Blood pressure is known to track from childhood through into adult life,3 but tracking is perturbed during the adolescent growth spurt.4 For this reason studies of adolescents are unlikely to contribute importantly …

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