Fisher, David, Baird, Janis, Payne, Liz, Lucas, Patricia, Kleijnen, Jos, Roberts, Helen and Law, Catherine
Are infant size and growth related to burden of disease in adulthood? A systematic review of literature
International Journal of Epidemiology, 35, (5), . (doi:10.1093/ije/dyl130). (PMID:16845132).
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Background: Slower rates of infant growth are associated with increased rates of death from ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in later life. We carried out a systematic review to assess the association between infant size or growth and leading causes of adult burden of disease to contribute to the debate on the potential of the promotion of infant growth to prevent ischaemic heart disease.
Methods: We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and bibliographies of included studies. First authors of included studies and other experts were contacted to locate unpublished analyses. Outcome measures for the review were leading causes of adult burden of disease selected from the Global Burden of Disease study. We included studies that assessed the relationship between infant size or growth during the first 2 years and the leading causes of adult burden of disease.
Results: Nineteen studies relating to 10 causes of burden of disease met inclusion criteria. Most studies reported data on infant size. Larger size in infancy was associated with increased risk of insulin-dependent diabetes. Larger infant size was associated with reduced rates of IHD in men but not in women. There were considerable gaps in the evidence and many conditions that account for a high burden of disease, such as cancer, mental illness, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and non-insulin-dependent diabetes, had few or no studies associating them with infant size or growth.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that there is no single optimal pattern of infant growth that is associated with beneficial adult health outcomes. There is insufficient evidence to recommend prevention of adult disease through strategies to alter infant growth.
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