Associations of stunting in early childhood with cardiometabolic risk factors in adulthood

06 Jul 2018

Abstract Early life stunting may have long-term effects on body composition, resulting in obesity-related comorbidities. We tested the hypothesis that individuals stunted in early childhood may be at higher cardiometabolic risk later in adulthood. 1753 men and 1781 women participating in the 1982 Pelotas (Brazil) birth cohort study had measurements of anthropometry, body composition, lipids, glucose, blood pressure, and other cardiometabolic traits at age 30 years. Early stunting was defined as height-for-age Z-score at age 2 years below -2 against the World Health Organization growth standards. Linear regression models were performed controlling for sex, maternal race/ethnicity, family income at birth, and birthweight. Analyses were stratified by sex when p-interaction<0.05. Stunted individuals were shorter (β=-0.71 s.d.; 95% CI: -0.78 to -0.64), had lower BMI (β=-0.14 s.d.; 95%CI: -0.25 to -0.03), fat mass (β=-0.28 s.d.; 95%CI: -0.38 to -0.17), SAFT (β=-0.16 s.d.; 95%CI: -0.26 to -0.06), systolic (β=-0.12 s.d.; 95%CI: -0.21 to -0.02) and diastolic blood pressure (β=-0.11 s.d.; 95%CI: -0.22 to -0.01), and higher VFT/SAFT ratio (β=0.15 s.d.; 95%CI: 0.06 to 0.24), in comparison with non-stunted individuals. In addition, early stunting was associated with lower fat free mass in both men (β=-0.39 s.d.; 95%CI: -0.47 to -0.31) and women (β=-0.37 s.d.; 95%CI: -0.46 to -0.29) after adjustment for potential confounders. Our results suggest that early stunting has implications on attained height, body composition and blood pressure. The apparent tendency of stunted individuals to accumulate less fat-free mass and subcutaneous fat might predispose them towards increased metabolic risks in later life.