Early growth and coronary heart disease in later life

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7312.572 (Published 08 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:572

Analysis was flawed

  1. T J Cole, professor of medical statistics (tim.cole@ich.ucl.ac.uk),
  2. M Fewtrell, MRC senior clinical scientist,
  3. A Lucas, MRC clinical research professor
  1. Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH
  2. MRC Childhood Nutrition Research Centre, Institute of Child Health
  3. MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit (University of Southampton), Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD
  4. National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Diabetes and Genetic Epidemiology Unit, FIN-00300 Helsinki, Finland

    EDITOR—Eriksson et al concluded that in Finnish men born 60 years ago “low weight gain during infancy is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease,” yet they did not analyse infant weight gain.1 All their references to infant growth relate to size at 1 year (table 3). Had they applied the key regression models that we have described2 to separate the effects of weight at different ages on later outcome, they would have found that infant weight gain was unrelated to risk of coronary heart disease.

    In their simultaneous analysis the hazard ratios for birth weight and weight at 1 year were similar and less than 1, showing that greater weight during infancy is protective. Weight gain is weight at 1 year less weight at birth, so if weight gain were protective it would appear as a protective effect of weight at 1 year and a relatively deleterious effect of weight at birth. …

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