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Keywords:

  • blood pressure;
  • elastin;
  • fetal growth;
  • programming;
  • vascular structure

SUMMARY

1. There is now a great deal of evidence that people whose weight at birth was low tend to have higher blood pressure and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease as adults.

2. We argue that, in fetuses whose growth is impaired, synthesis of elastin in the walls of the aorta and large arteries is deficient and that this deficiency leads to permanent changes in the mechanical properties of these vessels.

3. Over a lifetime, such changes could predispose an individual to higher blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.