University of Oulu

Perkiömäki N, Auvinen J, Tulppo MP, Hautala AJ, Perkiömäki J, Karhunen V, et al. (2016) Association between Birth Characteristics and Cardiovascular Autonomic Function at Mid-Life. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161604. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161604

Association between birth characteristics and cardiovascular autonomic function at mid-life

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Author: Perkiömäki, Nelli1; Auvinen, Juha2,3; Tulppo, Mikko P.1;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Internal Medicine, Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Unit of Primary Health Care, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Physiological Signal Analysis Team, Center for Machine Vision and Signal Analysis, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5NordLab Oulu, Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and Department of Clinical Chemistry, University of Oulu, Finland
6Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MRC – PHE Centre for Environment & Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
7Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2016
Publish Date: 2019-05-09


Background: Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. As abnormal cardiac autonomic function is a common feature in cardiovascular diseases, we tested the hypothesis that low birth weight may also be associated with poorer cardiac autonomic function in middle-aged subjects.

Methods: At the age of 46, the subjects of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 were invited to examinations including questionnaires about health status and life style and measurement of vagally-mediated heart rate variability (rMSSD) from R-R intervals (RRi) and spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) in both seated and standing positions. Maternal parameters had been collected in 1965–1966 since the 16th gestational week and birth variables immediately after delivery. For rMSSD, 1,799 men and 2,279 women without cardiorespiratory diseases and diabetes were included and 902 men and 1,020 women for BRS. The analyses were adjusted for maternal (age, anthropometry, socioeconomics, parity, gestational smoking) and adult variables (life style, anthropometry, blood pressure, glycemic and lipid status) potentially confounding the relationship between birth weight and autonomic function.

Results: In men, birth weight correlated negatively with seated (r = -0.058, p = 0.014) and standing rMSSD (r = -0.090, p<0.001), as well as with standing BRS (r = -0.092, p = 0.006). These observations were verified using relevant birth weight categories (<2,500 g; 2,500–3,999 g; ≥4,000 g). In women, birth weight was positively correlated with seated BRS (r = 0.081, p = 0.010), but none of the other measures of cardiovascular autonomic function. These correlations remained significant after adjustment for potential confounders (p<0.05 for all).

Conclusions: In men, higher birth weight was independently associated with poorer cardiac autonomic function at mid-life. Same association was not observed in women. Our findings suggest that higher, not lower, birth weight in males may contribute to less favourable cardiovascular autonomic regulation and potentially to an elevated cardiovascular risk in later life.

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Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 11
Issue: 8
Pages: 1 - 16
Article number: e0161604
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.016160
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3121 General medicine, internal medicine and other clinical medicine
Funding: This work was supported by the University of Oulu, 24000692, ( to MRJ, Oulu University Hospital, 24301140, ( to MRJ, European Regional Development Fund, 539/2010 A31592, ( to MRJ,Academy of Finland, 267435, 285547, ( to HVH and MRJ, Sigrid Juselius Foundation, ( to HVH, Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, ( to HVH and MPT, European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, 633595, ( to MRJ and Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation, ( to NP. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
EU Grant Number: (633595) DYNAHEALTH - Understanding the dynamic determinants of glucose homeostasis and social capability to promote Healthy and active aging
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 267435
Detailed Information: 267435 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
285547 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2016 Perkiömäki et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.