Intra-uterine growth restriction and increased risk of hypertension in adult life: a follow-up study of 50-year-olds.
Spence D., Stewart MC., Alderdice FA., Patterson CC., Halliday HL.
OBJECTIVE: To compare blood pressure between 50-year-old adults who were born at term (37-42 weeks of gestation) with intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR; birth weight <10th centile) and a control group of similar age born at term without IUGR (birth weight ≥10th centile). STUDY DESIGN: Controlled comparative study. METHODS: Participants included 232 men and women who were born at the Royal Maternity Hospital, Belfast, a large regional maternity hospital in Northern Ireland, between 1954 and 1956. One hundred and eight subjects who were born with IUGR were compared with 124 controls with normal birth weight for gestation. The main outcome measures were systolic and diastolic blood pressure at approximately 50 years of age, measured according to European recommendations. RESULTS: The IUGR group had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure than the control group: 131.5 [95% confidence interval (CI) 127.9-135.1] vs 127.1 (95% CI 124.3-129.2) mmHg and 82.3 (95% CI 79.6-85.0) vs 79.0 (95% CI 77.0-81.0) mmHg, respectively. After adjustment for gender, the differences between the groups were statistically significant: systolic blood pressure 4.5 (95% CI 0.3-8.7) mmHg and diastolic blood pressure 3.4 (95% CI 0.2-6.5) mmHg (both P < 0.05). More participants in the IUGR group were receiving treatment for high blood pressure compared with the control group [16 (15%) vs 11 (9%)], although this was not statistically significant. The proportion of subjects with blood pressure >140/90 mmHg or currently receiving antihypertensive treatment was 45% (n = 49) for the IUGR group, and 31% (n = 38) for the control group (odds ratio 1.9, 95% CI 1.1-3.3). Adjustment for potential confounders made little difference. CONCLUSIONS: IUGR is associated with higher blood pressure at 50 years of age. Individuals born with IUGR should have regular blood pressure screening and early treatment as required. Hypertension remains underdiagnosed and undertreated in adult life.