The role of genetic and environmental factors in the association between birthweight and blood pressure: evidence from meta-analysis of twin studies

College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.
International Journal of Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 9.2). 11/2004; 33(5):995-1001. DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyh260
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An inverse association between birthweight and later blood pressure has been found in many studies in singletons. Twin studies have been used to examine whether genetic factors or family environment could account for this association.
A systematic review identified 10 studies covering 3901 twin pairs. Meta-analysis of regression coefficients for the association between birthweight and systolic blood pressure was carried out for unpaired versus paired associations and for paired associations in dizygotic versus monozygotic pairs.
After adjustment for current weight or body mass index (BMI), the difference in systolic blood pressure per kg birthweight was -2.0 (95% CI: -3.2, -0.8) mmHg in the unpaired analysis and -0.4 (95% CI: -1.5, 0.7) mmHg in the paired analysis in the same subjects. In the paired analysis by zygosity, in all twins the coefficients were -0.7 (95% CI: -2.3, 0.8) mmHg in dizygotic pairs and -0.8 (95% CI: -2.1, 0.4) mmHg in monozygotic pairs, but in studies which included zygosity tests the coefficients were -1.0 (95% CI: -3.3, 1.6) mmHg in dizygotic pairs and -0.4 (95% CI: -1.9, 1.3) mmHg in monozygotic pairs.
The attenuation of the regression coefficient in the paired analysis provides support for the possibility that factors shared by twins contribute to the association between birthweight and blood pressure in singletons. Comparison of paired analysis in monozygotic and dizygotic pairs could not provide conclusive evidence for a role for genetic as opposed to shared environmental factors.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Associations between low birth weight (≤2,500 g) and increased risk of mortality and morbidity provided the foundation for the "developmental origins of health and disease" hypothesis. Previous between-family studies could not control for unmeasured confounders. Therefore, we compared differentially exposed siblings to estimate the extent to which the associations were due to uncontrolled factors. Our population cohort included 3,291,773 persons born in Sweden from 1973 to 2008. Analyses controlled for gestational age, among other covariates, and considered birth weight as both an ordinal and a continuous variable. Outcomes included mortality after 1 year, cardiac-related death, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, pulmonary circulation problems, stroke, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. We fitted fixed-effects models to compare siblings and conducted sensitivity analyses to test alternative explanations. Across the population, the lower the birth weight, the greater the risk of mortality (e.g., cardiac-related death (low birth weight hazard ratio = 2.69, 95% confidence interval: 2.05, 3.53)) and morbidity (e.g., type 2 diabetes mellitus (low birth weight hazard ratio = 1.79, 95% confidence interval: 1.50, 2.14)) outcomes in comparison with normal birth weight. All associations were independent of shared familial confounders and measured covariates. Results emphasize the importance of birth weight as a risk factor for subsequent mortality and morbidity.
    American journal of epidemiology 12/2013; DOI:10.1093/aje/kwt304 · 4.98 Impact Factor
  • International Journal of Epidemiology 05/2004; 33(5):923-924. DOI:10.1093/ije/dyh336 · 9.20 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is growing concern about elevated blood pressure (BP) in children. The evidence for familial aggregation of childhood BP is substantial. Twin studies have shown that a large part of the familial aggregation of childhood BP is due to genes. The first part of this review provides the latest progress in gene finding for childhood BP, focusing on the combined effects of multiple loci identified from the genome-wide association studies on adult BP. We further review the evidence on the contribution of the genetic components of other family risk factors to the familial aggregation of childhood BP including obesity, birth weight, sleep quality, sodium intake, parental smoking, and socioeconomic status. At the end, we emphasize the promise of using genomic-relatedness-matrix restricted maximum likelihood (GREML) analysis, a method that uses genome-wide data from unrelated individuals, in answering a number of unsolved questions in the familial aggregation of childhood BP.
    Current Hypertension Reports 01/2015; 17(1):509. DOI:10.1007/s11906-014-0509-x · 3.90 Impact Factor