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Objectives

Studies testing whether systemic inflammation might lie on the causal pathway between aberrant fetal and post-natal growth patterns and later cardiovascular disease have been inconclusive, possibly due to the use of single markers of unknown predictive value. We used repeated measures of a comprehensive set of inflammatory markers to investigate the relationship between early life measures and systemic inflammation in an African population.

Methods

Individuals born in three rural villages in The Gambia, and for whom early life measurements were recorded, were traced (n = 320). Fasting levels of eight inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, orosomucoid, fibrinogen, α 1-antichymotrypsin, sialic acid, interleukin-6 and neopterin) were measured, and potential confounding factors recorded. The association between early life measurements and systemic inflammation was assessed using regression analysis.

Results

Levels of most markers were unrelated to early growth patterns. In analyses adjusted for age and sex, more rapid growth between birth and 3 months of age was associated with higher levels of fibrinogen, orosomucoid, and sialic acid. These relationships persisted after further adjustment for body mass index but after full adjustment only the association with fibrinogen remained.

Conclusions

This study provides little evidence that size at birth or growth in early infancy determine levels of inflammatory markers in young Gambian adults. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 25:457–464, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.